"Some live by 'love thy neighbor as thyself'. Others by do not harm, or take no more than you need. What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance. In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun. On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp--praise song for walking forward in that light." Those words are the concluding ones from a poem read by Elizabeth Alexander at the first inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009. She read the poem she had written especially for the event. She read it with over two million people listening to it on the Mall facing the Capitol building and with millions more listening and watching via television across the world.
It was a message of hope on a day of hope. It was written to inspire people to walk in the light that they felt was shining on them because of a hopeful attitude that had begun with the election that had previously been finished. Ms. Alexander connected hope with love because love is the source of hope. "Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three, and the greatest of these is love." So says, Saint Paul to the church at Corinth.
What power does love have to bring about change? Can love overcome selfishness? Can it cause someone to change one's mind about an issue because they feel love for another? Can love conquer fear and doubt that has been cast over one's mind because of the state of the world around us? Can love make someone lay down a weapon and speak on behalf of peace?
Love can do all these things, according to the words of Saint Paul in I Corinthians 13. He proclaims that there is no greater force than love. Love can do more than we can ever imagine or think because if one truly loves others then one would never want to do anything to harm them or insult them or make them feel badly about themselves.
"Love is patient, love is kind, love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but it rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends..." (I Cor. 13: 4-8a)
Love casts a widening pool of light, according to Ms. Alexander in her inaugural poem. I think that Saint Paul would agree with her. As we love others, the love we show and share causes others to also want to share love. The love expands even as light illuminates all around it. Love is a force that can cause people to voluntarily change or to forget their own selfish ideas in favor of those of another.
We need that force in society today. We need it to change the minds of those who insist that their way is the only way and they will not budge even if it is for the good of millions of others. We know that feeling, that stalemate, because we see it displayed by our elected officials in Washington. Selfish ambition and greed has made many of our elected representatives draw a line of exclusion against reason and peace. We need for love to take the place of the negatives that stop peace and civility from ruling in our land. We need for light to shine so that they can see that only by loving our neighbors can we accomplish what is truly a just and peaceful existence for all people.
Walk in the light of love and let your light so shine that others will see your good works and give God praise for what you do.