I am a task oriented person. I wake up in the morning with an internal "To Do" list printed on my brain. Few things make me as happy as scratching tasks off of a real paper list. In a crisis I am action oriented. I am the person that says, "Slow down. Give me the facts." In my mind I am organizing them, and formulating a plan of attack, and making a list of what needs to be done. I am scrambling for paper and a sharp pencil.
I am not a tender person. I want you to tell me what you need me to do, not what you need me to be. Even when it comes to tenderness, I want the list. These are the things a tenderhearted person would do in this situation. Oh, okay. Got it. I can do that.
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Would you look at that? It looks like a "To Do" list.
- Have faith
- Feed the poor
- Give my body
Oh yeah, do all those things with a side of love. Wait no. This isn't a "To Do" list, it's a "To Be" list, and the list goes like this:
My younger, action oriented self greets this list with disdain and disgust. She argues loudly that love has actions. Look, they're all there in the list. Things to do, and we need to be doing them, and scratching them off our lists. But my older wearier self wonders, because I have tried to muscle my way into love again and again, by making the lists of things that must get done. In the face of pain, and hopelessness, and death what must get done? In the face of those things, is there ever a thing we can do, that can be scratched off a list?
There comes a time when everything we do feels futile. There comes a time when I have no wisdom to speak, no sustenance to offer, no work of my hand to save you, or me, or the world around us. All is lost and we are being swept away. I sit with paper and pencil in hand, and I write nothing because there is nothing to write, because I am still stubbornly sitting with the "To Do" list.
It does not seem enough to love. When love is all that we have to offer, why do we feel empty handed? When all we can do is weep and hope, why do we feel as though we have given up?