Starting Point
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Issue Date:  February 17, 2006

Starting Point


We have a big selection of bonsai pottery. The pots come in many sizes, shapes, colors and prices. At inventory time, I worked side by side with Basil. I counted the pots and gave the tally to Basil and he wrote it down and then we moved an inch or two, maybe three, to the next array. It went smoothly. We work well together.

We chatted a bit in between the digits. We spoke of the church, the gubernatorial elections, the war in Iraq, how good a cook Guerric is, the weather and a lot of other things. Digits and topics. Pots and the world.

So here it is, a few days later, very early in the morning and I am thinking about love and what it means. Love, too, comes in many sizes, shapes, colors and prices. But these variations are not arranged as neatly as are the pots. How to take an inventory of love?

Basil is good-hearted. But things can get to him. He worries about big things, as I suppose we all do, things over which we have no control, things that can cause indigestion. I encourage him to deal with what is on the shelf of daily life.

The bigger picture can easily overwhelm. Even something as wondrous as love can assume proportions that are not human. And then it is no longer love. Love should encourage us to embrace the daily-ness of life. Whatever so distracts us from seeing and loving the “stock” of the daily is harmful. It puts our hopes for life elsewhere -- in some far aisle we will never reach.

What is love? Is it as simple as being supportive of each other as best we can? Love is such a deep need of the human heart and yet we live our days muddling through all these little things, counting pots and telling each other that things will work out. Maybe that is one of the reasons I love this life -- we are here, have each other, and do the best we can with the little time we have. No miracles, no heavy-duty love, just ordinary stuff like pots, friends, bread and wine.

Fr. James Stephen Behrens is a monk at Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, Ga.

National Catholic Reporter, February 17, 2006

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