A reader wrote after yesterday’s Post – “So maybe your next post can be about best practices (expressions) of love in the public spheres of our lives.” Now despite not being quick enough to suggest the reader write the Post, and despite not having the benefit of being able to sit down over a glass of wine and get clarity on exactly what he had in mind, I’ve decided anyway to venture forward with responding to his suggestion.
New NFL, NBA, and MLB players are required to attend classes on behavior off the field or court. I sometimes wonder who’s teaching those classes, but the purpose of the classes is to teach these new public figures how to adjust to twenty-four hour scrutiny of their lives, and to remind them that their conduct is a reflection of the sport, their team, and their family. Parents lecture their children about their behavior in public. Politicians careers are destroyed it seems like every day because of their private behavior.
The Lenten season is a time for us to examine our behavior as disciples. Do we “walk in love” in the “public spheres of our life.” The term “public sphere” to me brings forth images of community. The largest of our communities, of course, is the human community. It is in that community we are called to exist for each other, it is in that community we are called to grow in love, and it is in that community we come to see God in each other – “to see God’s face.” We are called to build such a community as a sign to a world that drives us toward isolation.
I am not talking about simply togetherness, I am talking about a spirituality that begins with an open mind and an open heart. To those who think certain sexual orientations are worthy of punishment and exclusion, we call for openness. To those who think the poor, prisoners, or certain sinners are incapable of salvation, we call for openness. To those who believe a solution to hatred is death and destruction, we call for forgiveness and openness.
An open heart has no boundaries, shatters all barriers, opens all doors, refuses all prejudices, welcomes all strangers, and listens to all voices. How do we practice love in our public life – our community? We ask — who is uncared for and unknown – dying from loneliness, prejudice, or pain? We act – we knock on their door, we seek them out, we take them in, and we hold them close till they can live again. We open our mind and our heart to our surroundings to build a community of love.
Editor’s Note: I hope that other readers will offer public or private suggestions, make comments, or send ideas. The greatest way for our community to grow in love is for you to participate if you feel the spirit move you. Please don’t hesitate. W.