"Daybreak in the Desert"
A few days ago a friend and former parishioner died after courageously fighting a 30-year battle with AIDS. When I first met him I was told that he was coping with severe health problems; however, whenever I was with him, I could barely notice the kind of suffering he had endured for much of his life. He was one of the most upbeat and joyous persons I ever met - deeply loving and deeply loved.
When California legalized same-sex marriage, he and his partner were joined together as spouses. It was a beautiful wedding. Throughout the service I kept thinking of all the vile hate speech that had been directed against same-sex marriage in this State and throughout the country - much of it coming from religious groups: "It is God's will that marriage is between one man and one woman."
I also knew that throughout their lives these two men had often felt the brunt of rejection and judgment because of their sexual orientation. But as they stood together joined hand in hand at their wedding, they were a living icon of what marital love is all about- they were totally committed to one anther. They were deeply in love with each other, and they were deeply loved by all their friends and family attending that wedding.
A few days ago, after my friend died, his spouse wrote an obituary about his husband. I couldn't help but weep as I read this tender and passionate testimony to the man he loved so deeply and to the loved they shared together - a love that would not end in death.
As I tearfully read the words of this testimony I was struck with a "flash of insight" - it was an insight into the "power" of love as well as an insight into the "nature" of love.
For 30 years my friend was courageous and even noble in his battle with AIDS. He could do this because he loved and because he was loved.
Love is stronger than sickness and love overcomes pain
Throughout their lives, my two friends were able to rise above hatred and stand tall in the face of judgment. In fact, their relationship and their mutual "married" love was strengthened in the face of such adversity.
Love is stronger than hatred
My friend's body has died, but it is clear that love hasn't ended at a grave.
Love is stronger than death
The word "love" is so commonly used in our everyday lives that perhaps we take that word for granted. "Love" is sometimes thought of as a warm and tender, sometimes romantic feeling of affection one person has for another. At other times, when someone acts on behalf of another's welfare (even if they don't particularly like the other person), we call that action,"love".
And in some sense "love" is all these things. But when I read that tender testimony of a spouse celebrating the life of his beloved, it struck me that love is more than a "feeling" for another person, more than an "act" performed on behalf of another. "Love" is a mighty force. "Love"is a powerful energy- something that we do not "generate" but something in which we "participate."
"Love" - the universal, cosmic force- the energy that flows in us and flows through us connecting everything and everyone together, weaving the many not the ONE. We don't make love happen, love simply "is," and all we can do is say "yes" to it.
There are many people today who claim that "God" does not exist. I know that "love" exists. I've seen it way too many times to deny it.
In his well-known Epistle to the Corinthians, St Paul writes:
Love never ends, Love never dies
Faith, hope and love abide - these three;
and the greatest of these is
Saint John says:
Whoever does not love does not know God,
for God is love