So I have been in Krakow, Poland since Wednesday, and it’s being an interesting, fun, reflective, and stressful time. Am I on vacation you ask, no. I am trying to keep my sanity while waiting to apply for my visa. All of the paperwork should arrive tomorrow, and then I will venture to Lublin to hopefully receive a visa so I can stay in Ukraine for the for the next little bit.
I had company for the first few days of the trip, but since Friday I’ve been flying solo in Krakow. Let me say, it is a gorgeous city with wonderful people and tons of english speakers (praise God). Today I got to attend the UMC church here in Krakow (it’s been here for 40 years!!), and it was so lovely to see the service and what the UMC looks like here in Krakow. At one point I was sure that I was lost, and I didn’t write down the address (rookie mistake), and then I saw it, the cross and flame, and I knew I was found! I am so appreciative to the Evangelical Methodist Church in Krakow for their hospitality and sharing with me this morning.
While I’ve been here I’ve been reading Michael Gungor’s new book, The Crowd, The Critic, and The Muse: A Book for Creators. If you’re looking for some good thought provoking reading, read this book. The ideas are not necessarily new ideas to the world (to me a lot of them were though), but they are put together in such a way that has made me inspect why/how I do things, how I see the world and religion, how I love and what it means to love….
In the book Gungor references 1 John 4:7-8 “Dear friend, let us love one another, for love is of God. Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” He goes on to call love “the measuring stick of how much someone knows God.” I wonder what would happen if we all, as believers, non believers, whomever, used the way that we love as a measuring stick for our lives. What if instead of money, houses, cars, celebrity, the measure of success, of a life fulfilled, was how much we loved?
I sometimes feel like that love thing is a hard request to fill. When the three bunk mates wake me up at 7:30 AM with their giggling and flirting in the hostel, it was surely hard to love them (let’s face it I failed at loving them… I cursed them in my sleepy brain). When my sister refuses to stop being a brat, it is terribly hard to love her. It is so easy to lose sight of the love for all persons. To love the oppressed and the oppressor.
The funny thing about saying that we need to love the oppressed and the oppressor is that if we could all use love as our measure, true pure love of others–not a selfish love of self, money, beliefs, country (because that kind of love causes wars)–there would be no oppressor. The bad/good people of the world would love folks so entirely that things like genocide wouldn’t exist because there’s no room for that and love. There would be no us and them, it would be all be we. Wouldn’t that be glorious?
Of course that kind of harmoniousness won’t come about in it’s fullness until a later day, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t work towards God’s kingdom right now. That doesn’t mean we can’t practice love, mercy, and justice to all of creation. We will probably screw it up, we are human, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have the capacity to love greatly and deeply, and it surely doesn’t mean that we stop trying to love. I will leave you with this quote from the benediction of Michael Gungor’s The Crowd, The Critic, and The Muse: A Book for Creators (seriously go read it, this wee bit about love is just touching the edge of the mindblowingness that is this book).
May your heart be opened to the love that formed you and everything else, the love that holds all things together and shall make all things new in the end, and may that love that was broken and poured out for you impel you into the world to break your own self open to be poured out for the world that God so loves. Poured out in acts of justice and mercy, poured out in good and hard work that brings order rather than disorder. Poured out in songs and liturgies, business plans and water colors, child-rearing and policy-making.
May your life be a brush in the very hand of God–painting new creation into every nook and cranny of reality that your shadow graces.
PS. No I did not get paid or asked to write this because really, who would pay me/ask me to write about anything?