Rebellious love: Bringing our whole selves

How are you feeling?

What are you afraid of?

What gives you hope?

These three questions created our frame last week. Sitting in an uneven circle in a cinder-block-walled room on a chilly afternoon, we committed to be with one another, to listen to one another. We listened without comment, without defensiveness, without response. We simply listened.

Only, there’s nothing simple about listening. It’s hard work to stay in the space of listening. It’s not something we do on a regular enough basis. We listen to engage. We listen to respond. We listen to convince. We listen to move on. But last week, we just listened. “How do we begin to talk to one another,” I’ve been asked more than a handful of times in these months since the election and in these weeks since the inauguration.

I think that before we learn to talk again, we must learn to listen first.

I think it’s an act of rebellion to be a whole person, right? It’s an act of rebellion to show up as your whole self, and especially the parts that are complex, that are unfinished, that are vulnerable,” says Parker Palmer in his September interview on On Being.

The word rebellion has taken in a particularly politicized connotation in recent history. But the rebellion that Palmer is referring to is deeper. It’s the rebellion Jesus teaches his disciples in the Beatitudes, the rebellion he teaches this week in Matthew when he reinterprets the law, challenging his followers to recognize anger is murderous and reconciliation is the only faithful response. (Matthew 25:21-37) To love, as Jesus loved , is an act of rebellion in a world that says that our differences must divide us.

About love, Krista Tippett writes,

“We’ve made it private, contained it in family, when its audacity is in its potential to cross tribal lines. We’ve fetishized it as romance, when its true measure is a quality of sustained, practical care. We’ve lived it as a feeling, when it is a way of being.” Krista Tippett in Becoming Wise

Love as a way of being should sound pretty familiar to those of us who follow Jesus. We’ve heard it. “Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you”. “Love your neighbor”.  “Love your God”, “love kindness”. And yet, it never stops being hard. It never stops being an act of rebellion.

Last week, 35 of us showed up in the rebellious act of being our whole selves, fears, hopes, differences- all of the things, which the world says must divide us. We spoke in love, and most of all, we listened.

We are complex people, all of us, full of transformational stories, full of the potential to connect, brimming over with the power to love. And we are also vulnerable, imperfect people. We have been hurt. We are afraid. We choose not to love. To bring our whole selves, means even those parts we would rather not share, even those parts we would rather not look at, ourselves. Because only when come to the circle bearing everything that we are, do we live into Jesus’ rebellious message of love.


How are you feeling?

What are you afraid of?

\What gives you hope?