A flower I saw this morning, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Mr Rogers, and Jesus. Sounds like the beginning of a strange joke, but it pretty much captures my day and a beautiful insight that came out of all of them. It all comes down to nurturing a capacity to love in ourselves, in others, and in the world,
It started with seeing this flower as I was on an early morning walk. I had walked this same path many times over the last few years and don’t remember seeing blooms like this. As I took them in, I really felt that there was something beautiful and new that I was going to receive today.
That “new” came a few hours later when listening to a podcast with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson where he talked about making peace with his past and recognizing the limited capacity his father had for love as Dwayne was growing up. He shared of how he sees one of his roles now is to help grow that capacity to love in himself and in others, especially for those who don’t have that capacity because of the circumstances of life.
So Mr Rogers comes in as we saw the new documentary about his life – Won’t You Be My Neighbor. It was so beautiful to take in and so poignant and so necessary for our time today. There were a ton of beautiful quotes in the film, but one that resonated so strongly with me today was when he was being interviewed and he said, “The greatest thing that we can do is to help somebody know that they’re loved and capable of loving.”
The capacity to love.
As I was out this evening on another walk with the dog, I was praying about all this and I remembered the passage in 1 John where the writer shares about the depth of God’s love in Jesus for us all. But not only that it is a love that we are given, but it is a love that is reflected through us to others – “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God and God abides in them.”
What if? Simply…What if? What if each of us were in tensional about this. What if we were intentional about working to increase our capacity to love (which I think the primary way that happens is by loving)? What if we were intentional about not only loving those who are easy for us to love but also (and maybe more so) to love those that it is hard for us to love? In the film, there’s a clip from a commencement speech given by Mr Rogers where he says:
From the time you were very little, you’ve had people who have smiled you into smiling, people who have talked you into talking, sung you into singing, loved you into loving. So, on this extra special day, let’s take some time to think of those extra special people. Some of them may be right here, some may be far away. Some may even be in heaven. No matter where they are, deep down you know they’ve always wanted what was best for you. They’ve always cared about you beyond measure and have encouraged you to be true to the best within you. Let’s just take a minute of silence to think about those people now.
So, in this, take that minute to think about those people like he said. But maybe take another minute and think about those who we need a greater capacity to be able to love. What would happen if more of us started to love in that way? Rather than the splintering that so many are trying to foster, what would happen is a coming together. A drawing together. A weaving together. Community. Relationship. Commonality. Hope.
Lord, I am grateful for the capacity to love that you have nurtured in me. But I know there is a lot more for me to grow. Work in me to grow that capacity to love more and more. And work on us all to grow our capacity to love and let us see what beauty emerges. Amen.
The podcast I referred to with Dwayne Johnson is the first episode in Oprah’s Masterclass series – click here to download
The movie is Won’t You Be My Neighbor – please go see it in the theater to encourage movie folks to make more films like this celebrating people like Rev. Fred Rogers (Yea Presbyterians!)