Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Strength to Love

It is always a challenge to make room in my heart for the other person. When I love persons--especially those persons who have been given to me as companions in the journey of life--I let them "inside" my heart, and this means embracing their difficulties and sufferings, and making myself "vulnerable" to their faults and limitations. Such is the nature of intimate human love, which is found in different ways in spousal love, familial love, and the love of friendship.

It means that what happens in the life of the other person matters to me. Communion of life is part of the joy of love, and I often speak here about the joys and richness of the life I share with my wife and children. Of course I put forth our best side, hopefully in a realistic way. And I speak of some of the peculiar circumstances that we must suffer. But we are also very ordinary, and have all the problems of ordinary life and human relationships. These kinds of challenges are not very "topical," but they make up the stuff of most of human life.

Am I being considerate, helpful, supportive to Eileen? Am I being a true companion to my wife? Am I living my vocation as husband and father of the family? These are questions for an examination of conscience, and every day I fail in these things, I fall short, I lack love. I am either overly concerned and push myself, trying to dominate the situation, or else I am afraid and I withdraw, because I don't want to be hurt, or simply because I am too lazy. Lord, have mercy on me.

And if she fails me, do I make space in my heart to forgive her? Can I embrace the suffering that it causes me, with a merciful heart, and surround her with merciful love? Do I know that my own failures and my own suffering are surrounded and embraced and carried by a merciful Heart? Jesus I trust in You.

Eileen is preparing something in the kitchen, I am writing, the children are playing, maybe John Paul is doing his homework. What are we hoping for, and what weighs upon us? We are mysteries even to ourselves. Tomorrow is in the hands of God. This moment is His gift to me. O Lord, give me the strength to love.