The other has so many faces

Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all – 1 Corinthians 13:4 TPT

The horrific tragedy of Christchurch has left many in disbelief. I echo the heartbreak of many Kiwis who are struggling to come to terms with such a tragedy. The news reports in this past week have been especially full of human heartache. 

Within every house and in every heart across our country, we were stunned by the senseless harm and anger aimed at innocent men and women at the hands of a terrorist. Around the nation, wait, around the world, men, women, old, young, tall, short, strong, tired, white, black, straight and gay have all the felt impact of this tragedy.

Although we know that human suffering exists all around us, it seems that it is a human connection that increases our willingness and ability to allow that suffering to have meaning. When we connect a story or the face of someone we know and add value to the suffering it takes on a profound and often urgent meaning.  This has been my experience in these past days, our human impulse is to take action, to find some way to make a difference, to, in some way, ease the suffering of those before us.

All of this causes me to ponder this curious and mysterious power of human connection and how it is that it creates a pathway for us to join with others who suffer. It also causes me to wonder what it would be like if each of us knew that we could put a face and a story to the heartbreak. Would we be willing to allow our hearts to open more, to be more aware, to offer more support to those who struggle silently?

In this great paradox of our human existence, as we dare to open our hearts to see the suffering of one another, we become a part of the healing process. It amazes me, but it shouldn’t

This event, and all events like this one, impacts me to the core of my being. I, like many others, don’t know what action to take, but any action feed on nothing other than fear and more anger, I can’t be part of that, not now … not ever.

The well-being of others is not based on the chaos that sits behind a mask in the shadows. Through kindness and compassion, not harm and destruction, we reach beyond our own boundaries. Kindness doesn’t just exist; we must create it. It is based on our ability to stretch our compassionate self directly to the heart and soul of another. It is our joy to celebrate the vast differences that exist between each of us. But even greater than that, we must hold reverence for those differences that makes us individual.

What can I say to someone who asks, ‘what now’?

I would say look at the faces of others; look at the men and women who lost their lives at the hand of another. I would say look in their eyes, their smiles, feel their joy and discover their humanity. I would say stop what we’re doing and look at our life. I would examine our boundaries, our limitations, and then celebrate who we are. And, then, I would stretch myself beyond my judgements and beyond my grief and become a thread in the tapestry of others.

I would say pray for those left behind and those that left too soon. By holding the power of prayer within ourselves, we become the vibrant body of Christ that exudes goodness and kindness, allowing us to invisibly touch those far beyond our physical reach.

What I do know most of all, as we move through this horrific tragedy, is that we must remember love. We must remember, reawaken and recognise what love is. Even on this very dark day and amidst the pain, we must come to understand that love is, and will always be, the most powerful force there is that endures in the realm of existence.

Love knows no gender, colour, race, sexual orientation, or religion. Love just loves. Simply put, it needs nothing, but our willingness to be love itself. Be boundless with your love. Shed your limitations. Do not keep them on the step where your feet are placed. When it is all said and done, we will be defined by our love, not our anger.

Take time as you navigate this tragic loss. Find moments in your day to remember love; to become love itself. Be open to greeting someone with kindness, whose spirit is a little different than yours. Just celebrate the differences that exist and by doing so you will see the person inside.

Love now!

But the question now is: how long is it going to last?

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