By Sister Adriana Calzada V.
I have had a hard time trying to write this reflection. It is very complicated to write about love; it seems almost impossible to define it and I don’t feel I have the authority to give advice or even suggest how we should love.
I say this as I reflect on this past week when I walked in the streets of Chicago during very cold nights and I found people asking for help in almost every corner. I just passed by. I know the instruction is not to give money, but I could have given attention, a smile, a look recognizing a person. There is something wrong when there are so many people in that situation. There is something wrong when we look around and we find so much emptiness, pain and fear. There is something wrong when our society faces so many challenges as the present ones.
I find it easier to describe how it is to feel loved. I think of my family and my congregational family, my friends and the people I have journey with. I feel comforted and embraced and also overwhelmed of having received so much. However, this is a love that I take for granted. It is almost “logical” that these people love me and want the best for me. Receiving this love has a transforming power in me.
Then I reflect on how it is to feel loved by those who do not belong in these groups. Some people might ask whether it is possible to feel love from a stranger. My answer is “yes.” I have felt it and I have felt embraced, supported, encouraged and grateful. Receiving this love requires an intentional desire to be able to recognize it when I am not expecting it. I believe this love from strangers also invites me to be a better person. It is transforming too, so it holds the same potential to transform so many situations around us that are very painful, and we do not understand.
I think the practical invitation I find in relationship to “love in critical times” is to be open to perceive, receive and thank love, wherever it comes from. Then, almost automatically I will be giving it back, because it is so much, there is no room for keeping it. It has to be distributed, given as a gift. The important thing here is that this has to be done indistinctively, not choosing whom I find easy to love, not choosing the people I am close to, not choosing those more willing to receive it. It means taking small actions and small gestures that make the other feel loved. I just have to give love, acknowledging the same Word by which we are connected and, inhabits us. In essence, we are all the same.
Little by little we will affect other’s lives, just as ours is being affected every day. We will then be able to knit a net of love, one where no one is left out. This net will allow us to support each other, especially in those places where there is an urgent need for love to be more tangible. Just as God’s love being incarnated in Jesus.