What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Celebrating Valentine’s Day

By Mary Pandiani
Executive Director
Selah Center

 Something about being forced to say “I Love You” on a particular day of the year just doesn’t sit right with me. I admit that as a kid I enjoyed the opportunity to create Valentines for friends and family, as well as receive them. However, in my adult years, the compulsory nature of the celebration makes me a bit cynical about Hallmark or other card companies trying to make more money. To be coerced to love doesn’t seem like love.

That is until I remember, that while I’m not coerced to love, I have been commanded to love. In fact, of all the commands in Scripture, the greatest commandment is to love the One who also asks us to love the other as we love ourselves. Perhaps in a world so bent on division, it’s not such a bad idea to show our love on a particular day, sharing in a tangible way the love we have for them. If only we were to employ the Golden Rule, “do unto others as you want them to do unto you,” we would see a world that operates out of kindness rather than out of contentiousness and aggression we see or encounter. In fact, we might find we could be with one another in conversation and community, whether we agreed on issues or not. Maybe I don’t have to see this day of love as coercion, but rather, it’s a day that can turn a day into a week to a month to a year to a life of sharing in love.

Pope Francis has some words on the kind of love that we’ve been given which impacts our love for others.

Why do good to people who are not willing to accept you? It is a question that we too often ask ourselves. But it is a question that helps us understand God better. Faced with our closures, he does not withdraw: he does not put brakes on his love . Faced with our closures, he goes forward. We see a reflection of this in parents who are aware of the ingratitude of their children, but do not stop loving them and doing good to them, because of this. God is the same, but at a much higher level. And today he invites us too to believe in good, to leave no stone unturned in
doing good.”
Pope Francis

Maybe when I look at today, instead of asking “what does love got to do with it?” I can wonder about God who loves us regardless of my state of being, who always moves toward me. Perhaps then, I can move toward another, loving those that are easy to love and telling them so; as well, I can love those, or at the very least, be kind to those who irritate or disagree with me. Maybe Valentine’s Day is about movement towards one another, lovable or not, and it’s not buying another card…although a card is nice to receive too.

by Mary Pandiani
Executive Director
Selah Center

To Begin Again

Trust and start walking.

We are not alone in the dark,

our path will unfold as we move.”

Paulo Coelho

Facing the Dragons

Mary Pandiani,
Executive Director
Selah Center

Every morning I get up early, or rather LucyLu, my dog gets me up early, to take her for a walk. I don’t complain because I love the early morning hours when there are very few people on the street in our little downtown area of Gig Harbor. In the quiet, I listen to the daily lectio divina with Pray-As-You-Go; I watch around me for the light slowly appearing; and I feel the fresh coolness of the morning air. In these ways I’m able to begin my day in the awareness of God’s abiding presence. The walking integrates my body-mind-heart into a wholistic approach for what comes to me in this new day.

On this morning, I hear the phrase again and again in my thoughts, “begin again; let’s begin again.” The night before I didn’t sleep much with too many dragons coming at me in my sleepy semi-conscious awakeness. With concerns for family members and friends, other worries about what’s not working in the world, and general getting older aches and pains, I wrestle all night. Finally dropping off to sleep around 4:30am, I find myself awake again at 6:30am. Then the dog needs her walk.

That’s when I hear the phrase, and carry it with me today. “Begin again; let’s begin again.” The walking serves as a reminder that I’m walking into freedom each time I begin again. My body begins to move, despite the tiredness, it needs to move. My mind releases the pressing thoughts to allow for God’s expansive revelations. And my heart opens to possibilities, listening for the invitation to surrender whatever I am holding into the loving arms of God’s love and welcoming presence.

If I’m honest, none of my concerns from the night’s dragons are solved, nor will they be any time soon. But it does seem those overwhelming thoughts that kept me from sleeping have crawled to sleep into a dragon’s lair (definition: a place where a wild animal, especially a fierce or dangerous one, lives). For the day then, I can remember what it’s like to walk into freedom rather than fear. The walking keeps the memory alive of freedom, so that perhaps when I rest, even go to sleep at night, I can face the wild animals that scare me.

If nothing else, I can enter the next day where I can “begin again.” That’s what walking into freedom is – not that we don’t have worries, concerns that keep us up at night – but rather that we can begin again, regaining strength and perspective for a new day. While there are still dragons and fears, I can trust that even the lair – the cave where the dragon resides  – it is held in the mountain of God’s omnipresence. That’s the Who and where I hope and walk into the “let’s begin again.”