Imagine “love.” What colors do you see? What shapes? Now, try to think of the word without the color red or a heart. What do you see?
I often lead students through this exercise at the museum. An effort to understand that artists are constantly making choices – no matter how simple a drawing or painting looks – is a key part of this lesson. This discussion has so many interesting results:
I drew blue circles – because love is never-ending. And the sky is blue. We need love like we need to breathe.
I drew tulips – because there’s a field of tulips by my brother’s house that I love visiting.
It’s green – because green is calming and love should make me feel safe.
How do you view love? Sometimes I have trouble remembering that love does win; that love trumps hate. These days, it seems that those types of phrases are said in such an unloving way – that they’re used as accusations rather than reminders.
When I look to others and see that definition of love, I’m discouraged. It seems that I have to look so hard. When I close my eyes and think about it – really think, beyond hearts and red – I’m not as discouraged. It doesn’t seem so far away.
This second week of Advent, we lit the love candle. Sometimes it’s called the faith candle: A reminder of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem – a journey of faith and love.
We had our neighbors over to decorate the tree and have dinner. We lit the Advent candles, though we left off the devotional. There was something so amazing about starting this second week with these friends of a different faith background. As the girls decorated, we parents talked about Christmas and Bethlehem but from different perspectives.
As we talked about our own traditions this time of year, as made plans for making tree decorating a yearly tradition, love took on a whole new meaning. I am reminded that to love our neighbors is what this is all about. To come together and do life. To talk about our different experiences and celebrate the rich diversity we bring to our conversations.
I need to remember that as we tell stories of the manger. This love was revolutionary. It wasn’t about drawing more us-them lines. It is a radical inclusivity, where love truly does win and conquers hate.
So this week, I focus on a love that breaks down barriers, that doesn’t see differences, that turns the kingdoms of this world upside down.
What are some tangible ways you let love lead in your life? How do you actively break down barriers?