Last weekend my husband and I escaped the city for the day and went on an adventure which included good food and a fair amount of exploring. As we were wandering around we came across a large fleatique. We happily went inside to discover one of the largest collections of “stuff” we had seen in a long time. There was booth upon booth of gently used and once passionately loved items. Right in front of our eyes was anything one could ever not need and then some. As I looked around, I thought of the Velveteen Rabbit, the Beatles, and Jesus.
In today’s Gospel (John 13: 31-35) we hear Jesus give us a “new commandment: love one another.” But what does it really mean to love another person and do we truly follow that commandment in our lives? There are a myriad of books and theories about love out there and it seems like almost everyone has an opinion on the best way to show your love, especially around Valentine’s Day. When I was a kid I had a keychain that said “love is being best friends.” It was given to me by my “best friend” at the time. If I remember correctly we weren’t best friends that long and I honestly have not seen her since we graduated high school.
Our experience of love in childhood often sticks with us and teaches us lessons about the meaning of true love. Do you remember the story of the Velveteen Rabbit? I can still picture that beat up rabbit, stuffing coming out of him, missing an eye, fur all matted down or simply worn away. That rabbit experienced love. It was not a love requiring prim and proper perfection but one that was deep and true, a love which wore on that rabbit like a glorious badge of honor. The love the Velveteen Rabbit experienced brought him to life just as love brings us to life. I think that is why Jesus asked us to love each other.
As I look around and see those who have expressed great love to me, I don’t see a love that could be on display in a china shop. Instead, I see the real stuff of life. I see the long hours holding broken hearts and wiping away tears, the laughter we all need at times, the quiet gentleness of times being faithfully present with no words spoken. Bits of love, like these, keep us living and breathing.
It doesn’t take much to think about how Jesus wants us to give of ourselves, to authentically seek Him within others without falling to self-serving goals or bloated egos. The love Jesus wants us to experience and give brings us to life and sustains us. It is all we need….just like the Beatles would sing,
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need
Isn’t it amazing how love can be found in the oddest of places, even a fleatique.