ORANS challenges and calls you, at the core of its beliefs, to “Love One Another.” Being Relational isn’t easy. You may find yourself a frustrated with its practice. You are frustrated because “Loving One Another,” while truly central to what it means to Be Relational, is also vague, so wide open to interpretation that it leaves you wondering– Love one another? What does that mean for me?
We as humans are totally prone to take anything vague and bend and shape it to whatever we want it to be. And that is exactly what you have done, isn’t it? Haven’t you formed your own private idea of what it means to be a good person, your own private idea of the limits and boundaries of what it means to Be Relational – what that means in terms of your behavior and attitudes and also who you feel the calling to love and how far that calling extends – to your families? Yes; neighbors? Yes; member of your church community? Yes; random people on the street? Maybe; people whose needs you read about on the Internet?
Speaking for myself, I know that I have done this. Everyday I make choices about how I use my energies and resources. We live in a world with unlimited needs and challenges and we are limited in our capacity. Our world is so incredibly different than it was when I was young. Not so long ago, people would carry this calling to love one another in their dealings with each other and with everyone they met in their travels, but they were not faced with all the choices we face, they were not presented with such an incredible array of needs and stories, all calling for a loving response of care and compassion.
In this time in human history, you are presented every day with many tragedies and millions of people with genuine need. You hear about them on the radio, see their stories on TV and on the Internet in Facebook and many other channels. You see them as you drive our cars in your city. The challenge that you face in working to love one another, is greater than it ever has been. Why? Because, the network of your relationships is much larger, your sources of information are much greater. Your connections to people are much stronger. You can keep in touch with the lives of thousands of people through technology. But the overwhelming amount of tragedy and need that you are aware of also can have a very numbing effect on you. When you are faced with so much tragedy and need, in looking to preserve your own sense of well-being and happiness, you can tend to shut down, escape and focus on self preservation. To give an example, if you see one homeless person a week, it is easier to respond. If you see ten every day, it is harder.
One way of trying to answer this question, in trying to find a balanced approach, is to focus on being loving to every person that you encounter in the course of your day — Not every person that you drive by, not every person that you read about on the Internet or hear about on the news, but the people that you naturally come in contact with as you go through your day. This approach seems more manageable, doesn’t it? You aren’t expected to seek out people to love, right?
But what about your friends on Facebook? Your extended network of colleagues at work? Your school and church communities? Loving one another surely extends to actively caring for these people, right? Maybe, maybe not.
The point is that there are no clear boundaries in how far your love is meant to extend. How much you are to love and who you are to love. Ultimately it rests in your heart and in our conscience. Being Relational, you actively seek guidance for how you are to love and balance your love for others with your need to care for yourself. Speaking from my experience, my family has been the recipient of a great outpouring of love, from so many people, some with no connection at all to us, many with very strong connections to us, through our parish family at church and the school communities that our children are a part of. We are witnesses to great love that has been so generously given. We are humbled by it.
Many times we have wondered why we have been so blessed as we see that there are so many others who have needs and tragedies as great and many much greater than ours. We especially have felt this as we have spent time in hospital intensive care units. Hearing the stories of others and imagining that there are literally thousands of intensive care units all over the world, every one full with people with their own unique story of suffering and trauma. Each surrounded by their own communities of love.
We have faith that God cares for everyone just as he cares for us and trust that there is an abundance of love in our world. For many months now we have been praying for a creative miracle and we believe that miracle is ongoing and is being revealed to us every day. Yes, there have been many very difficult days and there are many difficult days ahead. But we know very deeply in our hearts that we are loved and so we feel inspired to love others. You feel that too, don’t you? You know you are loved and so you feel called to love others. So, at ORANS we encourage you to go out and change your world- to go out and show that you are loving by how you love others. To go create lasting positive change through quality interaction. That’s what Being Relational is all about. Loving One Another. Let’s do it.