Friday, February 15, 2008


Yesterday was Valentine's Day and I failed to even mention it in my thoughts. Judging from the flowers in my office, it was a great day for some. For others it may have been a reminder of what's missing in their lives. Later in the day someone requested a few thoughts on love. These thoughts won't make it on a Hallmark card but I believe they express how many people feel about love and many of the relationships in their lives.

Do any of us ever really feel loved the way we need to feel loved? I grew up in a family where I believe love existed but it was rarely spoken or expressed in any affectionate way. There have been times in my life where I have felt unloved and even a little lonely. Feelings, however, don't always reflect reality. I know there are people in this world that love me. My family loves me. I believe my friends care about me. Even a few strangers who receive my daily thoughts seem to love me. One friend once told me that if I died the funeral home would be packed with people whose lives I have touched. Sometimes when I feel unloved I wonder why. What need is not being met? What do I expect from other people? I think in my case it is probably a need for a little more attention or reassurance. I'm probably a little insecure about love. I don't want to constantly feel the need to convince myself that others care. I probably need others to occasionally reassure me that I am loved and that I am important to them and that I make a difference in their lives. Many of us feel the need to receive this kind of reassurance but we must also must realize the need others have for us to give this reassurance to them. Perhaps it really is true that you get what you give. Love and relationships are complicated. Many of us struggle to express our love for others. There are so many other feelings tied up with this thing called love. Sometimes, thankfully, love is simple and uncomplicated. I have learned much about such love from my granddaughter, Chloe. My relationship with her has given me a whole new understanding of what love can be. Her love is simple and non judgmental. She doesn't care if I am imperfect. Love is sometimes difficult, complicated, and misunderstood. Of course, if you've ever experienced real love, you know it worth the effort.

The men's retreat that I was going to be on, and for which I prepared a talk, has been cancelled. Only four men signed up to attend the retreat. Why? Most said they didn't have the time. It made me think of something that I learned a long time ago. We all have busy lives with the demands of family and work. One thing I have learned about myself and others is that in spite of unavoidable busyness, we manage to find time for the things we consider important whether it be a weekend retreat or a rock and roll road trip. You can only squeeze in so much activity into a day or a week so after the mandatory demands are met, it is a matter of prioritizing what other things you want to do. Like most people I sometimes feel like too many demands are made on me. I try my best to meet all of the legitimate demands placed upon me. Occasionally, however, I quietly....and sometimes not so quietly...rebel. Sometimes I am my number one priority and I choose to spend my time doing something for myself. Sometimes it is a weekend or a day at the monastery. Other times I spend all my money to attend a musical event. Occasionally I simply take a day and spend it home alone doing whatever I want to do. Each of us needs to find our own balance between our responsibilities to others and our personal needs. I don't judge the men who don't have the time for a parish retreat. I am not walking in their shoes. I was willing to give up a weekend to help lead this retreat but I am not unhappy that my time was given back to me. In our culture time is very valuable and it's worth cannot be measured. Perhaps for some men one less commitment will have greater value than a weekend retreat. God works in many ways.

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