What does love say when we do not agree?

I love poetry. Every Lenten season I buy a book of poems from someone new and read a few a day as part of my prayer. I love the funny, the historic, the ordinary. I love words. And there are also poems or authors that aren’t my favorites. I was at a poetry reading recently, and some of the poets were fabulous, and some were… not my taste.

This is to be expected, and I want to be exposed to new things, to things I might not enjoy but should be open to hearing anyway. However, on my way home, I was thinking it might be hard to be married to a poet (or any artist really). What if they poured their heart and soul into a poem, and after the first line or two, you knew you were going to really hate it? And yet, there is your beloved, looking for affirmation. It could be so awkward.

What does love say in that moment? And isn’t it also true for religion or politics or anything potentially divisive. What does love say when we do not agree, when it is painful to listen, when your very heart says no? Isn’t it also true with friends and co-workers and the people at the gym. What does love say when the person you are sweating on the treadmill next to turns on Fox News or MSNBC?

This is the question for our time. And I would say it is a discipline that we continue to refine, a discipline of generosity and patience, of humility and investment. We model for others how we want to be listened to, how we want to be received, by the way we listen and receive. Sometimes, the most loving thing is to tell the truth boldly and sometimes it is to breathe deeply and believe in the good in each person.

What I know for sure is that the way is not violent or mean. I know that being right isn’t as important as being kind. I know that there are plenty of opinions which are not facts. I know that relationships are precious and ultimately our only hope. I invest in relationships, even when it is hard, or I have to bite my tongue. We have to build up community, and that requires love, and love always includes sacrifice.

Poetry for August 31st, 2017

Mortal Youth

Youth is in its essence
Vibrant, musically glowing.
It is eternal, immortal;
Body acts, mind half knowing.

Time unknown to tall, bright youth
Moves past in careless certainty
Today is full but all too short;
Tomorrow is expected entity.

Life and love and liberty
Flowing through young, strong veins,
Thought and act and tongues show clear
That hate has not the reins.

Blossom, dawn and petal spreading,
Light and rain and earth-warm growth:
Then does Youth in mind and body feel
Self and soul forever growing.

Knowest thou, tall youth, that breathless dawn
Bows to quiet night, petals fall
When nectars drunk, and when all’s gone
Hate lives on! Mortal youth need not its call!


William Farragher