Lenten quote #9, 2019

This is an “extended quote”, as it is a commentary on life by Jim Taylor.

 

The holiness in our relationships

By Jim Taylor – March 13, 2019

Three cross-country skiers stopped near a barn-board woodshed. One of us exclaimed, “Look at those beautiful birds!”

Little birds, about the size of sparrows. Hanging onto the barn-boards right side up, upside down, crosswise… The males were red, though not as red as cardinals or robins. The females were more drab.

Tentatively, we edged forward, so we could see them better. And take some pictures.

A woman followed us down the trail. She didn’t know us, and we didn’t know her. But she saw what we were watching.

“They’re red crossbills,” she told us. And then she explained how their hooked and curved bills enable them to pry pine cones open, so their tongues can flick the seeds out.

We got into conversation. So did other arrivals. Someone got out her cellphone and Googled crossbills. These ones later turned out to be white-winged crossbills, for the white bars on their dark wings. By the time the original three of us left, a small knot of people had gathered together, chattering animatedly about birds.

Conversation for its own sake

Some relationships are long lasting; some are as fleeting as that encounter. The wonder of relationships is that they can happen anywhere, with anyone.

Relationships don’t have to be lasting to be worthwhile. Certainly, long term friendships are worth working at. Letters, phone calls, emails – all help to sustain those relationships. But even when you haven’t seen someone for ten years, a good relationship can be picked up again almost instantly. There may be a lot of catching up to do, but the relationship itself doesn’t have to be re-built from the ground up.

But even short-term relationships, the kind where you never expect to see this person again, have value. In the line waiting for a grocery cashier. On a sidewalk. In an elevator. In a family. In a club or church.

They can brighten a day, bring a smile to two or more faces, provide unexpected insights.

The thing that makes us human

I’ll venture that relationships may be the ONLY things that matter. Certainly more than money or possessions. Maybe even more than life. Is a life devoid of relationships worth living? Some recent studies claim that the primary cause of death among the very old is loneliness. An absence of relationships

In other matters, people can argue for hours about whether a particular action hurts or helps – and whom it hurts or helps – and whether it’s right or wrong, legal or illegal. But no one seems to have any difficulty recognizing the difference between good and bad relationships.

No one would prefer a lousy relationship to a healthy one. We don’t all know how to build healthy relationships – indeed, some people seem to foster hostile relationships – but we all know we’d rather have warm and friendly relationships than cold and prickly ones.

My theology sees God in our relationships. Not just between humans, but between all living things. Because the strongest relationships we know are based on unconditional love, that becomes our defining characteristic for God, too.

Granted, relationships won’t match the classic definition of Almighty, able to move mountains. But they can certainly move people.

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Copyright © 2019 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups, and links from other blogs, welcomed; all other rights reserved.

To comment on this column, write jimt@quixotic.ca

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Posted March 14, 2019 by allanbaker in Uncategorized

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