February 10, 2006

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Love is responsible for everything right in life

When my brother, Michael, and his fiancée, Betty, planned their wedding, I wrote a poem for them titled “Harmony.”

I read it at their ceremony. To conserve space, I share it here in prose form:

Love is a poem rising from the soul, written by God and lived with courage and care until it stands alone with joy. Line after faithful line, the mystery unfolds through gifts of the Holy Spirit, illuminated by the light of Christ into crystal truth and a pure power transcending anything that is not good. Love is a poem rising from the soul in harmony with our Divine Father.

Because Catholics and members of the Salvation Army are holy kin, I am sure that Mike and Betty (Majors in the Salvation Army, stationed in Grand Rapids, Mich.) are as interested as I am in Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, “God Is Love,” recently released to the public. My brother and sister-in-law have been regularly putting their Christian love into action for years.

Love is always beautiful when referring to the give-and-take relationship between God and us, as well as with each other—on so many levels, some easy and some very challenging. Art, music, films, poetry and novels reflect love in ways only limited by imagination and creativity, but love translated into service for God is especially right and good.

Unfortunately, love can also be degraded. I will not mention such situations because we are on the threshold of Valentine’s Day, a time to especially show love in gentle and caring ways. Nor will I go into the countless ways that love is trivialized except to say that even I am guilty of saying “I love. . .” instead of “I like” when speaking casually about inconsequential things.

In tennis, love means “nothing.” In our love for God and in personal relationships, it means everything! Love is the driving force for everything we do right in life. How we put love into action identifies us as Christians and, if we do not act with loving kindness, we need to re-assess our behavior.

Recently, I read this statement by Bob Wilhelm at www.storyfest.com: “I learned there is no price to pay for redemption from the world’s life and the world’s death. Redemption is not gained by wit, nor wagers, nor wealth, nor accomplishments. It is wrought by love. And love has no price. It is without measure.”

Wilhelm stated this after carefully researching Robert Louis Stevenson’s story, The Bottle Imp, which he shares on his free Storyfest eJournal at the above Web site. Bob and his wife, Kelly, are Catholic writers and pilgrimage leaders who have enlightened me for years through e-mail. Readers can also contact Wilhelm via storyfest@mac.com.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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