I remember traveling to the Dominican Republic with a group of college students a few years ago. We had no air conditioning, slept 20 guys to a large room, concrete floor, wafer thin mattresses…at night the air hardly moved. There were no video games, no television, we were cut off from the world. The food was marginal and everywhere we traveled we ended up covered in a layer of dust and dirt. The shower water was “heated” in large black plastic barrel on top of the roof and was tepid at best. We were staying at an orphanage so there were screaming kids around all the time…constantly asking for attention. This was far from an exotic, getaway and yet the group I was traveling with (myself included) was having the time of our lives!
There was something sacred, something special taking place that week in the Dominican Republic. We were learning what it meant to live out of one half of the great commandment…”Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.” It caused all the cares of the world to fade away and life to become real. We saw each other, and those around us clearly…things which would have “mattered” at home became irrelevant and we allowed God to move in and through us. It is a week I will never forget.
Today I came across a reading from Henri Nouwen which challenges us to wrestle with what “balance” looks like as we seek to live out of the Great Commandments of Jesus, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, all your strength…love your neighbor as yourself.”
We live as if we should give as much of our heart, soul and mind as possible to our fellow human beings, while trying hard not to forget God. At least we feel that our attention should be divided evenly between God and our neighbor. But Jesus’ claim is much more radical. He asks for a single-minded commitment to God and God alone. God wants all of our heart, all of our mind and all of our soul. It is an unconditional and unreserved love for God that leads to the care for our neighbor, not as an activity which distracts us from God or competes with our attention to God, but as an expression of our love for God who reveals himself to us as the God of all people. Henri Nouwen
Abba Father, As we near our Easter morning celebrations help us see clearly your call upon our lives, help us live boldly into the reality that we journey through life as your children.