What the world needs now ... (Do you know the rest?)

Burn, baby. Photo by Mike G, Flickr.

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. -- Jimi Hendrix

Last week, I was walking out of the Metro listening to Fr. Paul Dressler's podcast on active, Christ-like love, and there at the escalator exit stood a melancholy man, in about his early 40s, with a container for change and a sign that read, "I have two small boys..."

I can't tell you what the rest said, though, because I ran away before I read the whole thing.

Such profound hypocrisy in my action (or lack thereof). I had just spent twenty minutes learning about Christ's call to pour out love in the hardest of places, to follow the "map of Jesus," and yet when the moment came to transform words into deeds, I choked. Again. Like always, it seems.

In trying to exert power over my surroundings -- in claiming that I don't want to take my wallet out in public, that I don't have money to spare, that I can't verify if my contribution will be used well -- I end up withholding love. Talk about a losing proposition. Even if my claims are justified, why not choose to exert power in a productive way -- say, for example, offer to buy the man food for his family, direct him to local services more equipped than I to help, or simply listen to his story?

Kurt Vonnegut wrote: "A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved." Imagine if I had embodied love in that moment. Imagine if I did so each day. Imagine if you did so each day. What power would we have then? Infinite power. And with it, infinite peace.

Prayer #286: The Power of Love is a Curious Thing

Pure love is a pot belly stove, round and warm, wamp-wamp-wamp, radiating out to all who pass. And like that cozy stove, those who feel the heat do not take it -- they receive it. Absorb it. They are fueled. They burn in turn.

Am I willing to stoke my own flames? As logs turn to ash in service of heat, will I let You consume me, reduce me to my barest elements? Will You strike the match when I cannot? Together, will we -- can we -- burn enough?