Monday, November 19, 2012

Simple Love

Dan and I have just celebrated our eleventh anniversaries, but I'm not about to write about romance.  For those of you who are disappointed, read on anyway.  You might appreciate the links at the end!

About three years ago, together with a group of friends from our church community, we began serving hot, homemade sit-down meals and offering lunch bags to the homeless in our town, one weekend out of every month.  Just two days out of thirty, but so much work, time and effort went into this project, and still does.  Dan and I are no longer involved with the day-to-day planning/running of it, but the project is now called "The Big Feed" and is living up to its name.

During that first year, we took Coo and the boys along with us, and the relationships we began to build with the people of our local homeless/hostel dwelling culture have been long-lasting.  On trips to town we have conversations with the Big Issue sellers and buy hot drinks for the ones begging near the coffee shops.  It's not about feel-good charity; it's about simple [definition: uncomplicated] love, no matter what.  

I learned about simple love as I let them hold baby Coo in that first year.  My tiny daughter was cradled by people who no longer held their own children, lost long ago to adoption or foster parents.  And their stories, these stories, spilled from their mouths as their spirits softened while they watched my baby.  

I learned about simple love as my boys began to call the Big Issue guys by their first names, and shout out a "hey!" to them when we saw them around town, treating them like any other person we knew.

I learned about simple love when it was time to go to S' funeral.  S had been a Big Issue seller for many years and had suffered from cancer for months.  Lefty was intent on going too, so into the car he hopped when our friend Becky arrived to pick us up for the funeral.  At our local crematorium we waited in blinding sunshine for the funeral car.  There were just a few of us, but it was clear that everyone there had been part of S' life in a very real way.  Lefty sat down on the kerb next to N, one of the Big Issue sellers, and chatted.  

As much as I admire my son naturally, as his mother, I was still surprised and impressed at the diplomacy and normality with which he treated the entire situation.  Eventually, it was time to enter the chapel for a service presided over by a local vicar.  His message was simple, and centred around Jesus, and love.  When all was ending we gathered around the coffin to say goodbye, each person taking a single flower and setting it on the coffin for their own individual goodbyes.  I overheard many murmured words, and later asked Lefty what he'd said as he put his flower on the coffin.  

"I remembered what they say in Tintin, and said 'So long, mate!'"

S was not Lefty's relative or a neighbour.  He was not a church friend or a mate from football.  Whenever we saw S, he was not at his best.  He was usually in pain and just trying to sell his magazines so he could go back to bed.  But Jesus' type of love transcends the cultural and social boundaries that we tend to place on relationships, and in Him, we are all the same.  And somehow, my son seems to have grasped that truth: ten-year-old Lefty, who takes reluctant showers once every two days and the Big Issue guy who might have not had one for over a week are equal in His eyes.

For us adults, those of us who are set in our ways and so constrained by our habits and prejudices and lack of mercy... why is it so hard to learn to simply love?

This is my 400th blog post! As a sort-of veteran blogger who has not been consistent in the past [I started in 2005, but didn't blog regularly until just a few years ago] this is quite an achievement!  

For a trip down memory lane, here are links to a few of the popular posts out of the four hundred: Ynyslas [fun in Wales], Calke Abbey [National Trust house visit], Saying Goodbye to Lizzie [the suspicious death of a pet fish], Allowances [money-scavenging adventures with my boys], The Violin Man, and Goodbye Doggieland? [about growing up]. 


  1. this was an incredibly beautiful post.i needed to hear it today. and congrats on your 400th post! xox

    and happy anniversary!

    1. Thank you, fellow blogging friend! :)


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