ENCOURAGING SHY HEDGEHOGS

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.” – John 13:34

THIS IS A TOUGH CALL! “Love your neighbour as you love yourself.” And Jesus goes further: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. Yes, a tough call. But especially difficult to argue the toss in the (resurrection) light of the fact that it comes from the One who was just about to “lay down his life for his friends”. There’s no avoiding that the community of the baptised is to lay down its life, in order to take it up again with Christ; renewed, again and again.

OK. The principle’s agreed: so how? Well first by learning to be silent sometimes, and by listening to what people have to say. This takes us, secondly, to a place where we’re given opportunity to understand them. Care-full listening can mean that we’re not overlaying own expectations and ideas upon others – at least at first. Care-full listening allows those we’re called to love to be themselves and to reveal themselves … a bit like the best stillness we can achieve will just occasionally encourage the shy hedgehog to ease up enough to unwind and show us his face. So, thirdly, the listener and the listened-to begin to affirm each other, and others, for the people they and we are, and for the people they and we strive to be. The Risen Lord asks of us that we love one another. And when we get better at it, when we love carefully, our lives are deepened and enriched. When we love carefully a little more of God’s Kingdom is established … “on earth as in heaven.”