Faith, charity, love

Yesterday I attended, for I guess the 7th or 8th time, the episcopal church up the hill from me, where my friend Alissa Newton is the presiding priest. Obviously, the attacks in Lebanon and Paris worked their way into the prayers and sermon, but not in any kind of apocalyptic way.

It reminded me of something that has always confused me about Paul's letter to the Ephesians, I think it was, where he says love is the most important feeling, above faith and charity. This used to confuse me because, at the time, faith was far and away my strongest emotion. I was a fervent believer, I was like one of those medieval female mystics, relying day after day on faith alone, a sort of martyr. And then more recently I have begun to think about the importance of charity, which for me is generally about being charitable towards people's shortcomings. Not being judgmental, and quick to forgive if anything does cause offense, as well as being charitable towards those I work with, giving of my knowledge and time.

But Paul says love is the greatest of all of these, which always confused me, because love to me is something you fall into with a cute boy, not a constant emotional state.

Anyhow, I was thinking yesterday about these three things in a new way, in terms of dimensions of time. Faith is quite clearly about the future, the fervent belief that god is going to swoop down and make everything better. And charity is about the past, about being forgiving, and of trying to right some ancient wrong. So love must be about the present, about the here and now. About being fully, authentically, and completely engaged in the present moment, with whomever is there with you in that moment, giving them your true, undivided and heartfelt attention.

So that is what I am working on these days. 


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