Thoughts on Love

I go to church three blocks from Ground Zero, and I’ve worshipped there—at Trinity Wall Street, one of the oldest churches in Manhattan—since I moved to New York. I’m a bell-ringer (Quasimodo-style), and I met my husband through the church and we had our wedding blessing there.

I wasn’t in New York on September 11, but Trinity was. The parish served as a rescue and prayer center. There’s an ongoing memorial to the victims of 9/11 at St. Paul’s Chapel, our second parish site.

Lately, I’ve been listening to the anti-Muslim vitriol and Rev. Terry’s plans for the called-off Koran burning. A lot of Christians equate God with fear and vengeance (hey, there’s plenty of both in the Bible!), and are happy to add more bricks to their walls of self-protection. They feel the Muslim community center is insensitive to victims’ families, and that Muslims must be up to no good.

Is there any merit to this?

Well, Mayor Bloomberg is on the board of the 9/11 Memorial, where he interacts with families, and insists that none of the families he’s met are opposed.

Fine. But surely the Muslims are up to no good.

I reached out to the Vicar of my church. She knows and respects Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, and she spoke in favor of the center at a city planning meeting.

Hmmm. But how do I know for myself?

I decided to check in on some Muslims to see what kind of mischief they were up to. K-Pants and I ran into Ama and Nina at the park. My friend Sonja is Nina’s mom, and they go to mosque every week.

Where was Sonja? Why not at the park with Nina? Apparently, Sonja was at home baking cakes for Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan. I would have taken this as a cover-up, except I’ve eaten Sonja’s cakes, and they are marvelous. Once she left half a cheesecake at our house (I ate it all, and I am still Christian, so these are probably not subversive cakes [but they’re not good for your daily saturated fat intake]).

Then K-Pants and I approached our building. Aha! A Muslim trying to get in. This was Salman. He couldn’t open the door to the building because he had too many groceries in his hands.

Why all the provisions, Salman? Preparing for a catastrophe? Apparently, Salman was also getting ready for Eid. His father has a heart condition and has been in and out of the hospital. His mother was home care-taking and couldn’t go to the grocery store. Eid will be crazy, he says, but I should stop by next Monday or Tuesday because his mother would like to have me over. Hmmm… what for? Trying to convert me? No, they just want to say thanks for the muffins I brought last week.

Not only do I love these people personally, but I’m reminded of what Ephesians tells me about Jesus, whom I respect much more than Rev. Terry: “I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, so that you may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love.”

Whatever faith or un-faith you are, I hope love comes out on top of fear.

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14 responses to “Thoughts on Love

  1. very well written!! 🙂

  2. I love this post, I love you and I love having you in my life.

  3. Great post, Ev. I’m proud of being your friend.
    We follow you from the distance thanks to facebook, but this blog is much better!! 😀

    • Yay transcontinental readership! My mom is walking the Camino right now. Makes me think of how that was one of the most spiritual experiences I’ve had: constantly meeting all kinds of different people and getting to know them for their own perspectives and experiences. All our love to you and Noemi!

  4. Great post, Ev. I share the same opinion that love above all else is what “Jesus would do”. I posted on FB last week that people need more tolerance and education before speaking of things they don’t know about. That hate masked in religion is still just hate.

    • You are right on, Sarah. The problem is that religion sometimes makes us feel like we know a lot more than we do. That’s not the intention, is it? Thanks for your thoughts!!

  5. Lovely post. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Lovely post. Did you happen to hear The Rev. Daniel Simons sermon at St. Paul’s Chapel on 9/11? Your post echoes his sentiment that day.

  7. Just beautiful! I continue to be amazed by “good Christian people” who persist in spreading lies, hate and fear in the name of Jesus. Thanks for your post.

  8. First let me put this out on the table. I was raised as a Baptist. Bear in mind that there are TWENTY ONE different branches of it–and none of them seem to agree on squat. However, I have come to believe one thing that I have learned from every church I have entered into that engages in the practice of hating people because of opposing beliefs or opinions.

    Even though it is WRONG they still are hypocritical enough to act in such a manner toward those who believe differently in a lot of churches. The ignore the simple saying, “Judge not…” They ignore, “Vengeance is mine…” and yet they conveniently forget the ONE verse in every single bible that applies to all, “Judgement will begin with the house of God.”

    It is always easier to point fingers, but they fail to see that they live in a glass house. These “good Christian people” who persist in spreading bull and engaging in hatred toward others, as has been pointed out, will get THEIRS long before anyone else does because in my opion–my karma trumps their dogma.

    Momsicle, I hope you are on facebook too because I adore your posts!

    • Flattery will get you everywhere! Thanks for your passionate comment. I don’t have a FB blog site yet, but you’re inspiring me to do one.

      You know, I think sometimes the problem is precisely that churchgoing folk like myself don’t forget that judgement will begin in the house of God–but we turn it on its head to think the judgment will come to other houses of God. It will be the house of the condoners of gay priests and premarital sex, the houses who accept other religions as possible and even plausible.

      A friend once told me a spiritual exercise she does that was given to her by a very dear priest friend of ours. When she’s on the subway with hundreds of people, she prays the Our Father, substituting, “Your Father, and Your Father who art in Heaven.” Sometimes we don’t even realize that we think this Father is only ours; in reality He belongs to everyone.

  9. Thank you for your honesty, too. Growing up a Baptist, there is a lot of hypocrisy that I have personally witnessed. I am going through a struggle of my own as of late. I have a war within myself. I don’t feel that God meant for me to discount in their entirety the teachings and wisdom of my Native American ancestors. I have felt more peace in going to my quiet place on Scenic Mountain (Big Spring, TX) than I have felt anywhere in years. I go there to reflect and meditate. I can honestly say I feel more peace and a joyful stillness there than I have ever felt listening to someone tell an entire congregation that they’ll go to hell if they dance or have alcohol. Sheesh…I can promise you I know deacons who drank and beat their kids while talking out of both sides of their mouths growing up. To me they weren’t “Christians”. If God was in some of these churches, then I sure didn’t know it. Some of these “churches” should have been dubbed “First Church of the Frigidaire”. I think those who truly try to follow the teachings of the bible are victimized by such hypocrisy. There is a big difference between believing and the word “religion”. Religion implies (in and of itself) ritual–dogma and arbitrary sanctions. These come from authorities who interpret the bible in different ways. The fact that man has a free will contradicts such things. It is like your friend implies by saying that prayer on the subway with “Your father” inserted, it shows thinking outside the box and a true love for her creator and not the creation. If God wanted us to think inside that box many of these spiritual authorites built, I don’t think Mary Magdelene or Rahab would have been mentioned in the text at all. Their presence shows unconditional love right there!

    I am on a journey right now. My Native American ancestors say we came from “Mother Earth”. The bible says it is dust which we came from and dust to which we will return. This does bear out, because we do return to the dust after death, so it leaves me with ONE nagging question. If we came from Mother Earth, which in turn means we came from the dust, then WHERE did the dust come from? Well, whatever it originated from, I wish it didn’t aggravate my sinuses right now!

    I think one of the greatest things I’ve read recently was a prayer written by St. Francis of Assisi. I have so much to learn as I explore right now. I do feel that his prayer shows what I should aspire to be–and I do try! In order to do so, I have to be less reclusive. I make myself work publicly now and had to change jobs to do that! I simply was moved by that prayer! Artists paint with brushes-writers with pens! St. Francis gave me a picture that pointed me in a new direction. I’ll try to use brighter colors! Have a wonderful evening!

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