By Maureen Kalbus
Sheltering at home, after Sunday’s Zoom church service, I happily am reflecting on the warmth exuded by church members as they shared St. Valentine greetings, many dressed in red. Waking up any day is cause for celebration! It was additionally rewarding to hear people delight in reaching out to each other. For many, that is the only interaction with others that they have.
My parents came to mind, as they spent a lifetime reaching out to others. My Dad would have given you the shirt off his back, and, I believed, my Mum kept Hallmark in business, as she remembered everyone’s birthday or anniversary. One Saturday night in the 1950s, on their way down the Cregagh Road in Belfast, to catch a movie in the local cinema, my parents saw a woman lying on the pavement, a youngster kneeling beside her. My Dad stopped the car, jumped out, and ran over to them. Apparently, the woman had collapsed quite a while previously. No one had stopped to help. My Mum ran to a nearby sweetie shop, and called for an ambulance, and the mother and child were taken to hospital. It turned out that the woman had an ulcer that had burst. My parents saved her life.
Both were present, day or night for family and friends, whenever needed. They came into each other’s lives in an elevator in the building where they worked, in their late teens. When Mum stepped out onto her floor, my Dad said to his pal “That’s the girl I’m going to marry!” He didn’t even know her name. After he found out where she worked, he sent her a hand written note, asking her out. They saw the movie “Vanessa.” Their love story spanned seventy years, and they were married sixty- one.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy, and can fathom all mysteries, and all knowledge; and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
When I was a child, I talked as a child, I thought as a child, I reasoned as a child. When I became a man/woman, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am known.
And now these three remain; faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love.”
1 Cor. 13
Once the Valentine flowers have wilted and the chocolate wrappers have been discarded, the warm reaching out needs to continue. We all, especially now, need to connect, be touched, and embraced by human interest and love. A major strength in our church is the bonding: the strong, supportive interaction between individuals, whether in church, through church activities or via Zoom. We have opportunities to get to know each other at a deeper level during Women’s Retreats, the Men’s Group Meetings, dinners in people’s homes, and the Women’s Breakfasts. Barriers come down, and, in a safe setting, people open up about their lives.
“Heart to Heart” Anon
“I want to be your special friend.
Our fellowship two lives will blend;
Come walk with me and we will start
To forge a friendship heart to heart.
Then side by side we’ll move along;
Our bond in Christ will make us strong..
Encouragement will be our goal,
In sweet communion, soul to soul.
This partnership is from Above:
We’re called to share, to help, to love
And so I pray: May God impart
His blessing on us heart to heart.”
Who has recently reached out and touched your life? How? Have you reached out to others?
Jesus was the epitome of reaching out, touching lives and changing people. Zacchaeus is an example Luke 19 v 1- 10 Jesus told many parables so that we may relate to others, whatever their situations: The Good Samaritan Luke 10 v 29-37; The Prodigal Son Luke 15 v 11-32; Children Luke 18 v 15- 17; The Crippled Woman Luke 13 v 10- 17
We are now in the season of Lent: a six week period for inner searching and contemplation, when we can take time to reflect on our approach to life, and take steps to improve.
Jesus was invigorated by his forty days in the wilderness: Luke 4 v 1- 15
Tibetan Yogi, Shabkar [1781 - 1851] spent many years wandering, touching lives in remote areas, and was inspired to recount his contemplative experiences and his journeys through the Land of Snows. He produced a fascinating narrative that is punctuated with poetic songs:
“Your prime goal must always be
To generate and nurture in your heart a love
That is such that the pain of others
Is unbearable to you.
Carry on like this until the birth
Of true compassion, natural and spontaneous.
In the vastness of the sky, without center or edges,
The sun shines, illuminating all things without choosing.
This is the way you should help beings.”
During these quiet, contemplative weeks leading to Easter, let us ponder where we are and how we may improve for ourselves and others.
“ This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise.
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.”
From “To Bless the Space Between Us” by John O’Donoghue.
Warm wishes for your journey through Lent,