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RONAN SCULLY: Hope, love, pray and don’t worry

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CLARE Echo Thought for the Week columnist Ronan Scully discusses the importance of loving each other always.

As we start into another few weeks of Covid-19 lockdown, I have put together some thoughts that might help us re-look at some of our life choices and help us re-focus on this journey called life.

Each day we get up from our rest is a time for giving thanks for blessings received, asking forgiveness for transgressions committed, forgiving those who have aggrieved us and asking grace and strength for the future as we face into what we now call the “new normal”. 

We are aware of needing to make decisions about both our past and future. We cannot reject the past, but we can allow it to be redeemed. We cannot determine the future, but we can allow it to be permeated with the love and the mercy of God. 

I can look back on the first part of the year and the resolutions or new beginnings that I made and see how often I have failed to live up to those. I can look forward in the hope that after lockdown I can try to live my resolutions or new beginnings better.

Most of all, I can decide here and now to try to live today as it should be lived, because ‘today’ is all we ever really know. So let’s continue with our ‘new normal” and a renewed sense of purpose about what we are called to be and do and to try and love deeply from our hearts.

Try Loving Always

When trying to truly love, it will entail many hardships and costs. But you have to keep trying. I know myself for I have failed miserably at times. True love when it’s for real gets its hands dirty. It takes a chance. It goes out on a limb. It takes a gamble. Love makes a statement and leaves a legacy. It does the unexpected. It is surprising, and stirring. It performs acts that steal the heart and leaves an impression on our souls. Often these acts are never forgotten.

I recently read a moving story about Bob Pierce, the founder of an international charity. He had advanced leukemia, but he chose to visit a colleague in Indonesia before he died. As he and others walked together through a small village, they came upon a young girl lying on a bamboo mat next to a river. She was dying of cancer and had only a short time to live. Bob was indignant.

He demanded to know why she wasn’t in a clinic. But his friend explained that she was from the jungle and wished to spend her last days next to the river, where it was cool and familiar. As Bob gazed at her, he felt such compassion that he got down on his knees in the mud, took her hand, and began stroking it. Although she didn’t understand him, he prayed for her. Afterwards she looked up and said something, “What did she say? Bob asked his friend.

His friend replied, “She said, ‘If I could only sleep again, if I could only sleep again.'” It seemed that her pain was too great to allow her the relief of rest. Bob began to weep. Then he reached into his pocket and took out his own sleeping pills, the ones his doctor had given him because the pain from his leukemia was too great for him to sleep at night. He handed the bottle to his friend. “You make sure this young lady gets a good night’s sleep,” he said, “as long as these pills last.”

Bob was ten days away from where he could get his prescription refilled. That meant ten painful and restless nights. That day his love cost him greatly. But even in the midst of his suffering, God infused him with a supernatural sense of satisfaction that he had done the right thing. Real love inevitably carries costs and true love always costs. If there is no cost there is no love.

Refocusing

So as we move onwards lets try to refocus ourselves and on the goal of life which is real love for one another. Not just in a sentimental way, but in a real practical and caring way to our fellow human beings from all walks of life, colour and creed. Try if you can to rise with the sun to pray. Pray alone. Pray often. God will listen, if you only speak.

Be tolerant of those who are lost on their path. Ignorance, conceit, anger, jealousy and greed stem from a lost soul. Pray that they will find guidance. Search for yourself, be yourself. Do not allow others to make your path for you. It is your road and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you. Treat the guests in your home with much consideration. Serve them the best food, give them the best bed and treat them with respect and honor.

Do not take what is not yours whether from a person, a community, a charity, the wilderness or from a culture. It was not earned nor given. It is not yours. Respect all things that are placed upon this earth – whether it be people, animal or plant. Honour other people’s thoughts, wishes and words. Never interrupt another person or mock or rudely mimic them. Allow each person the right to personal expression. Never speak of others in a bad way. The negative energy that you put out into the world will multiply when it returns to you.

All people make mistakes. And all mistakes can be forgiven. Bad thoughts cause illness of the mind, body and spirit. Practice compassion and real love and caring when and where you can.

Love deeply Always

Loving and living deeply from the heart is not easy. It takes work. Very hard work. It demands self-sacrifice, a generous spirit, great tenderness and goodness and an expansive embrace. It implies the risk of loving and living without barriers and obstacles. It suggests walking in someone else’s shoes, leaving behind one’s own baggage that makes the walk heavier, and letting go of old habits that become burdens on the journey. It is to speak and act with compassion and mercy.

Loving and living deeply from the heart is intentional. It does not happen accidentally. It happens because we decide to live that way. We love in spite of us, even if it hurts. It means going beyond what holds us back, beyond what bothers you about another person and looking for the good in them. Loving and living deeply from the heart is about forgiveness – forgiving previous generations for their actions. And in the case of some of the most difficult and painful situations, loving deeply from the heart also means praying:

God forgives us, even though we know what we do. Deep-hearted love does not just contemplate the wrongs that have been done or the mistakes that have been made; it also calls us to active repentance. It says, “Don’t just sit there feeling bad; do something to make it better. It gets beyond that which keeps us stuck in the past and prevents us from moving into the future. At the center of it all, deep heart love and life is a call to conversion and, if we’re honest with ourselves, most of us need this wake-up call to conversion.

Maybe loving deeply from the heart should be part of everyone’s new beginnings as we hopefully leave lockdown to move into a “new normal”. Our families, our friends, our work colleagues, our towns, our cities, our country and our world need it.

It is Up to You!

Always remember that, “One song can spark a moment; One flower can wake the dream. One tree can start a forest, One bird can herald spring. One smile begins a friendship, One handclasp lifts a soul. One star can guide a ship at sea, One word can frame the goal.

One vote can change a nation, One sunbeam lights a room. One candle wipes out darkness, One laugh will conquer gloom. One step must start each journey; One word must start each prayer. One hope will raise our spirits, One touch can show you care. One voice can speak with wisdom. One heart can know what’s true. One life can make the difference, you see it’s up to You!”

Thought for the Week

As your thought for the week, don’t ever forget for even a second how very important and how very special each and every one of us are. Please try to love deeply from your heart always and for the good of everyone. In the end, the goal of real life is love. The measure of our maturity is our love for God and our love for others. If we fail in our love we have missed what it means to be a truly good person. Pray, hope, love and don’t worry!

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