In her book, The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd tells of a teenaged character named Lily. One day her mother figure in the story asks Lily what she loves in this world. The young girl says she loves Coca-Cola and salted peanuts, the color blue, bees and honey. Her mother asks, “Did you know there are 32 names for love in one of the Eskimo languages? And we have just the one. We are so limited, we have to use the same word for loving each other as we do for loving a Coke with peanuts. Isn’t it a shame we don’t have more ways to say it?”
Isn’t it a shame we don’t have more ways to say we love each other? At Pentecost, strangers stopped being strangers at the very moment they could hear each other—and the message they heard was that they were loved by God and that they were commanded to love one another.
I can think of a lot of ways we can say we love…
We have a dedicated team of people who visit our older ones who are confined to their homes or nursing facility. They take communion and they speak words of grace.
We have a team that has been sending cards and letters to incarcerated women for years. They do so quietly and without fanfare, but those correspondences are life-giving for those women. They bring hope and it’s done in the name of Jesus.
About 25 of us met some months ago at H.G. Hill Middle School to help package 100,000 meals along side the students there. I got a letter this week that those meals were delivered last week to Madagascar. A total of 285,000 meals were shipped there. Rise Against Hunger, the agency that led this effort, has an ambitious goal to end world-wide hunger by 2030. That’s an astonishing thing to imagine, but it can be done. Is there a better way to say “we love you” than to end hunger?
A few weeks ago, a similar-sized group of our men helped construct a Habitat For Humanity home. Everyone knows that we have a housing crisis in the Nashville area. One Habitat House won’t end that crisis, but it WILL send a strong message that we, the church, won’t sit idly by and do nothing. If enough of us joined in, we could eradicate homelessness in our area. How better to say “we love you”?
A few months ago, we received an offering for OASIS, an organization that ministers directly to LGBTQ teenagers. They provide support, training and they provide runaways with a place to be safe. They sent us a letter thanking us for our contribution and for believing in their work—which is at its core to love these young people when many around them can not—will not.
A couple of dozen of us worked last week at Project Transformation at Hamilton UMC. We listened to students read to us—and some of us read to them. One of my students was a rising 6th grader from Nigeria. She was beautiful and I’m pretty sure she read better than I do. She read me a portion of one of my favorite books, Diary of a Wimpy Kid. It was glorious. The longer she read, the more she leaned into me—I took that to mean that what was going on between us was more than literacy. We “fell in love” with each other.
Isn’t it a shame we don’t have more ways to say it?