The well of life is love, and he who dwells not in love is dead.

John Tauler, in Sermon for Thursday Easter Week

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I saw my father twice in my life.  Once when I was about 16 and he was dying of cancer.  The other was when I was age four and he walked right by me and never said “Hello.”

Of the two, the first at age four was one of the most instructive and searing experiences of my life, an invaluable lesson – that set the compass at due North for the rest of my life.

What did I learn from his walking by me?  This great life lesson: those who love you, love you and those who do not, do not.

Yes, those who do not love you are dead to you – dead … and there is NO breathing life back into them.  Questions of loving are between the person and God and we are not God.

When others are dead to us, it gives us clarity and sight.

Yes, for me the incident with by father was a great gift, a life lesson at an early age – a call to love fully and wisely each and all the days of my life – now extended into my seventh decade.

Did it add to my life?  You bet it did.  How?  I knew when I was loved and when I was not, and my course became clearer. Likewise, the God who is Love itself emerged from the “this and that” of mortal distractions and cultural foolishness. I experienced in-depth the joy of being loved and of loving.  Indeed, my time here has proved more joyful and better used.

I have a Dear Friend whose mother is, and always has been, unable to love anyone but herself.  My Friend’s life has been a puzzle to her in some ways.  She (perhaps the kindest and most thoughtful, loving and considerate person I have known) has attempted for years, in her kindness, to get her mother to care for her, to treat her with affection, to receive her as she is – a gift of loving kindness.

Alas it has all been “to no avail.”

My Friend’s mother cannot love but herself.  She is the dead person Tauler identified in his 14th century sermon.  They exist.  They can be in our family. They are often the ones we have fair expectation might love us.  But, please learn from my experience as a four-year old boy – when those who might love you, do not – they are dead to you and you to them.

Knowing that will save you a great deal of heartache and futile efforts and raise up the reality that God, the most important of all, loves you no matter what others do or do not do.

No sooner do we believe that God loves us than there is an impulse to believe that He does so, not because He is Love, but because we are intrinsically lovable.

C. S. Lewis, in The Four Loves

Yes, it is counter-intuitive – we know God loves us when we experience at considerable pain that others do not.


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