I don’t guess there is anything I would rather do, than to wake early enough to have time alone. It’s not the absence of people that I seek, but the presence of God. It’s a time to sort through my morning ritual, allowing His Spirit to lead me; a quiet time, with a warm cup of coffee.
I usually flip on the coffee, already prepared as a gift from my loving wife, then walk the dog that has stolen my heart. He in fact, knows the difference between my early morning restroom trip and my actual awakening. Coach can be balled up in bed under the covers (yes, he is spoiled), yet somehow never misses when I slip my bedroom shoes onto my feet. He immediately pulls himself awake, flapping his ears back and forth against his head, as he shakes off slumber and bounds to the floor, awaiting the leash that signals permission to go outdoors.
Once we return, he happily moves to the bedroom door, and once I reopen the door, bounds into bed for the remainder of the morning until my wife awakes. He knows how to be loved!
That’s a little more difficult for me, hardened by years of leadership perhaps, and thus the necessity of my early morning ritual. Yet, God never fails to provide access to His Spirit. Though this may sound religious, it is more about availability and my random movement from the local newspaper, through my emails, various websites and yes, by leather backed friend, The Bible.
This morning, after reading of the atrocities in North Korea, the economic challenges that face Public Education, the pathetic political struggles that continue in our community; then, tossing in a couple murders, I had sufficiently renewed my awareness of human need. Turning to Richard Rohr’s devotional, my eyes met a young Ethiopian girl with a smiling child securely strapped to her back and these words:
“I have heard it said that the gaze of delight between a mother and the baby at her breast is the beginning of the capacity for intimate relationship. We spend the rest of our lives hoping for that moment again: that kind of safety; that kind of security; that kind of feeding; that kind of living inside of one world, where we are delighted in and loved.”
Whether it was my renewed awareness of how much our dear puppy loves to be loved, or the blatant absence of love reflected in the news this morning, my spirit seemed to refocus on our need as humans to be loved. That took me to one of my favorite books in the Bible, and the love story of Ruth. Ruth, a desperate young widow whose life could have ended in despair, chose rather to love and be loved. A mother-in-law, also widowed, and deprived of all her sons, chose to love and to mentor young Ruth as she rediscovered how to be loved.
You can tell where all this is leading, for not far into this spiritual ritual, I too found my heart being massaged by the lover of all men, with whom I meet each morning. Love is our deepest need. Not money, not power or positional status, but just being loved.
God became flesh…not storming into creation as a conqueror of our enemies, as we might have prescribed. He became a baby, nursing a warm breast, comforted by the heartbeat of Mary, which His life had for nine months been fashioned around. His first lesson for us was intimacy, being secure in the womb of a mother. He came as an innocent child. Perhaps our greatest need is maintaining that innocence and intimacy, not earning it or buying it as we so often try to do, but allowing it.
Come be loved, may be the song the angels sing; a song somehow drowned out as we navigate a world that screams to us that love must be earned; that relationships should be suspect; that intimacy is a fable and family is just too difficult. The older I get, the less I am convinced that love achieved by other means than simply being lovable, is even love at all. So today, with arms lifted high in my basement sanctuary, my cry to God is that I be loved and that I be lovable.
What a way to begin a day!