But there are others who rarely, if ever, feel the sweet contentment of love's gaze. Of course, we can guess who they are. They are the "marginalized"...those on the outskirts of society so I guess that makes them on the outskirts of love. Which is pretty crappy. We have the homeless, the addicted, the abused, the defeated, the discouraged, the bullied, the taunted, the disabled, the neglected, the orphaned. Whatever the situation, the least we can do is offer acceptance, encouragement and yes, even love in the simplest way...through our eyes. People feel judged. They feel ridiculed. They feel dismissed or misunderstood simply by the way we look at them. How often do we look past these people? For me, I'm ashamed to say...way too often.
About a year ago, I was standing in church listening to the priest and I could barely hear him. I was distracted by a father just loving his daughter. She was in a wheelchair, drooling with fists clenched in that twisted, painful, tell-tale sign of cerebral palsy. She clearly couldn't speak and yet the conversation those two were having drowned out the world. He couldn't have been more rapt, more fascinated or more interested in her and she knew it. His love and tenderness took my breath away and I knew that for me, that interaction was today's gospel, homily and God's holy presence all wrapped up into one.
That moment still inspires me. And it reminds me why Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Gandhi and Martin Luther King are all revered. They were (and in the Dalai Lama's case still are) able to give every single person that gaze of loving devotion. There is no price. The criminal, the leper, the sick, the mentally ill...all of us...are worthy simply because we are here.
So...I guess I've stumbled onto an extra New Year's Resolution. In addition to the exercise I need to do, the closets I need to clean or the letters I need to write comes a real challenge: look at the world with a gaze of love. Yes, that means even when my kids bug me, when someone is rude, annoying, self-centered, obnoxious, needy, intolerable or just plain wrong I need to hold my gaze and offer my love. I'm pretty sure I'm going to blow it a million times but why not give it a try...that's what resolutions are all about.