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  • Rev. Jamison Wayne Galt

Quotable: On the Connection Between Suffering and Love

A church member sent me this quote as a follow-up to my sermon last Sunday, in which I argued that suffering is meant to carve out places in our hearts and lives for more of God's life and love, like an excavator digging a giant pit in the earth in order to make it a life-giving reservoir. But Henri Nouwen, as usual, says it better:

"Do not hesitate to love and to love deeply. You might be afraid of  the pain that deep love can cause. When those you love deeply reject  you, leave you, or die, your heart will be broken. But that should not  hold you back from loving deeply. The pain that comes from deep love  makes your love ever more fruitful. It is like a plow that breaks the  ground to allow the seed to take root and grow into a strong plant.  Every time you experience the pain of rejection, absence, or death, you  are faced with a choice. You can become bitter and decide not to love  again, or you can stand straight in your pain and let the soil on which  you stand become richer and more able to give life to new seeds.
The  more you have loved and have allowed yourself to suffer because of your  love, the more you will be able to let your heart grow wider and deeper.  When your love is truly giving and receiving, those whom you love will  not leave your heart even when they depart from you. They will become  part of your self and thus gradually build a community within you.
Those  you have deeply loved become part of you. The longer you live, there  will always be more people to be loved by you and to become part of your  inner community. The wider your inner community becomes, the more  easily you will recognize your own brothers and sisters in the strangers  around you. Those who are alive within you will recognize those who are  alive around you. The wider the community of your heart, the wider the  community around you. Thus the pain of rejection, absence, and death can  become fruitful. Yes, as you love deeply the ground of your heart will  be broken more and more, but you will rejoice in the abundance of the  fruit it will bear."

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