There is a simplicity to Autums’s luring radiantly colored leaves to the brown sanctuary of the earth: a quiet statement about replenishment, change and growth. Laying down something to embrace what is waiting, what comes next. Trusting what is past, what is happening now, and what is to come. Believing, somehow, that Autumn’s presence itself is a harbinger: there is something more to come. Simplicity belongs to each of us as much as it does to Autumn. Times are boldly complex, clearly unfamiliar, definitely uncertain. And then there is the Gospel message of this day: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind…Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mt. 22
There is a profound simplicity in those words, a depth beyond easy grasp. First, be attentive to what is, who is, Other than human. Be conscious of the mystery of being! Celebrate the sunrise, the light, the moment! Find the future in the eyes of the aged; discover the wealth in the joy of the young. Know the wisdom of laughter and the blessing of tears, the comfort of friends and experience of hope in loss. Believe in the more. Recognize what is less. Trust in mystery and discover faith. And then, when you are ready, pause. Breathe very deeply. The next step is about loving self.
How is that done? How does loving self begin? How is it practiced? How is it made real, visible to others, alive in the Universe? Have the courage to ask. Have the courage to wait, to listen, to know finiteness and empowerment at once. recognizing who you are, what you are about, your strengths and areas for growth, is a foundation for learning to love your neighbor. Love is a process, a journey, a commitment to growing. Know that you are growing and changing, and you are somehow choosing that path in the choices and decisions you make. It matters what you do, and it matters how you choose to do it. There are challenges and pitfalls, obstacles and wrong turns, but keeping an eye on the long-term goal is an invaluable tool. Look for the mentors, the models. Find the exemplars you admire. Believe in goodness. Life is short, and moments matter. Trust in change.
And then, love your neighbor as yourself. Imagine tenderness, kindness bestowed upon another. Attentiveness to the person, the moment: that is love. Love respects, love reaches out. It is present in the quiet smile, the door held open, the unexpected gesture. It is present in the truthful statement and gentle wording. It is there with the extra hand, the shared plate, the ability to see the common ground. It is about realizing that having good neighbors starts with being a good neighbor. It lingers with the forlorn and dances with the despairing. There will be moments of rejection, but that is about suffering and meeting suffering with empathy. Most of all, loving your neighbor as yourself is part of the challenge of being human.
Love replenishes purpose in life; it re-focuses attention on what really matters. In a time of such complexity, the very simplicity of the wors, the ideas, offers more than promise.