Monday, March 7, 2016

Day 21 of Lent: God Wants Us to Love Ourselves as Well as Our Neighbors

Love yourself as you love your neighbor.  Mark 12: 31

Caregivers often forget that they need to care for themselves if they are going to care for others.  When someone cares for an elderly or ill person, they are constantly giving of themselves in so many ways.  They often forget to take the time to nurture their own spiritual and personal well being.  They often experience burnout, cynicism, illness, anger, and alienation.  They often feel guilty for taking time off from work and family responsibilities for spiritual renewal.  They fail to see the connection between healthy self-love and caring for others.  What does it mean to love our neighbors as ourselves?

Jesus was expressing the profound truth that our love for others is ultimately connected to our ecology of life.  We cannot wisely love others until we know how to love ourselves.  Our wholeness and well being and the well being of others are indivisible.  We cannot achieve our vocation in life apart from one another.

Peace is the gift of an expansive vision in which individual self-interests expand to include the well being of others. In so doing, we reflect the divine passion for wholeness.  God's passionate love for each unique moment of live always includes not only the well being of our immediate companions but also the whole earth.

The practices of loving God, loving the world, and loving our neighbor, and loving ourselves form an inseparable unity.  We find God's presence not only in the natural world but also in the face of our neighbor and in our own personal life.  If we dedicate ourselves to helping each creature experience God's deep love for themselves, we are finding our own peace and joy in our actions.

Think on these things:
I love myself just as I am.
I treat myself with love, taking time for rest and refreshment.
My love for myself embraces everyone I meet.

God, whose love centers on each creation and embraces all things, help me wake up to your loving embrace.  Help me understand that I am your beloved child, fully encompassed by your care.  Help me love myself through acts of self-acceptance and self care.  Let the love I feel from you flow to everyone I meet as I claim my role as your partner in mending the world.  Amen.

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