As news cycle follows news cycle, I find special meaning in a line from The Little Prince. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.“ Is that why we humans find working together so difficult? Families alienated? When every decision becomes a competition? When the common good is overlooked for the thrill of one-upmanship? Why is it so easy to ignore the murmurs of our hearts, ignore the whispers of our souls?
The more I listen to the news and observe human nature, the more I become aware of the importance of love and kindness as a commitment, not a feeling. It’s one thing to revel in the excitement and joy of passion, touching, hugging, love making, to be on the receiving end of affirmation, affection, and care-taking. It’s another thing, altogether, to willingly set aside one’s own interests and aspirations to enable a loved one or group to flourish.
I never doubted our children’s affection for their dad when he was sick, yet recalling the many ways they choose to put their own lives on hold to help care for him, continues to humble me.. At some point in their growing up, they quietly shifted from taking us for granted as their parents and replaced their childhood dependence with their own version of “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.”
All this brings to mind the familiar image of the praying hands. I recall our pastor using a pair of bookends of the praying hands for the children’s message when I was a kid. He told us of two artist friends who made a pact to support each other in their budding careers. As the creator of the praying hands developed his artistic skills, his friend worked a manual job to bring in enough money for the two of them to live. Before the second artist had his turn to study and create, he injured his hands, making it difficult for him to paint. One evening his friend was so inspired by seeing his friend’s gnarled hands folded in prayer that he created the famous image that inspires us to this day. Love as commitment, not just warm fuzzy feelings.
Recently, Burt Bacharach died after sharing his amazing talent with the world. It seems appropriate to honor him by quoting the words to one of his songs, written by lyricist Hal David:
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love/ It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of/What the world needs now is love, sweet love/ No not just for some, but for everyone.
Lord, we don’t need another mountain/ There are mountains and hillsides enough to climb/There are oceans and rivers enough to cross/Enough to last ’til the end of time.
What the world needs now is love, sweet love/It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of/What the world needs now is love, sweet love/No, not just for some, but for everyone.
Lord, we don’t need another meadow/There are cornfields and wheat fields enough to grow/There are sunbeams and moonbeams enough to shine/Oh listen, Lord, if you want to know.
What the world needs now is love, sweet love/It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of/What the world needs now is love, sweet love/No, not just for some, oh, but just for every, everyone.”