Spirit Quest


Love is patient, love is kind

Love never fails

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan
True North Perspective

Much has been written, spoken, shown, about the Canuck Carnage, or is it Vancouver Violence. I don’t intend to help overkill the subject.  However, In the midst of the broken glass, the burning cars, the rioting rabble, there was an island of tenderness and love.  Two young people embraced. Their picture has gone around the globe. It needs no caption. This language is universal.
I venture to guess that in the worldwide gallery of man's inhumanity to man there are many portraits of passion, albeit often left unseen: in the crowded tent cities on the Turkish-Syrian border, hidden away among the rubble of Gaddafi's Tripoli,  the flood ravaged villages of the Yangze valley, at Cinder City of Slave Lake, and too many more to mention. I vividly recall the silhouette of an embrace as two people viewed the remains of their home after a tornado had ripped through a Barrie subdivision years ago.
Whether by the hand of man or by an “act of God,”  confused tangles of steel and concrete have been unable to impede love, not even on that tragic morning of 9/11 in lower Manhattan. Indeed, if anything, tragedy has brought out  that deepest of human emotions: love.
The best known and most beautiful poem in the Bible was written by a man named Saul and later Paul :
“If I speak with the tongues of men or of angels and have not love,
I am but a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal....”
1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongue of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part,  but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

The translation that is most familiar, has it as  “sounding brass or tinkling cymbal.” but that doesn’t really do justice to the sound and fury against which love silently and peacefully makes its presence known. That letter writer was very conscious of the power of love even in the enforced peace of Pax Romana. 

The other day my wife opened the drawer where we keep onions. We beheld a miracle, the tubers had sprouted and sent their tentacles through the plastic mesh that had imprisoned them. That process had been exceedingly slow but relentlessly powerful as the plant sought light and sustenance and freedom from its confinement.
Likewise love penetrates the captivities devised by man or by an act of God, as previously mentioned. Who has not seen a beautiful flower blushing in victorious pride having defeated its concrete prison, or marvelled  at the Jack Pine, rugged and windblown, leaning out from the edge of a rocky promontory on one of the Thirty Thousand Islands in Georgian Bay, as Tom Thompson portrayed it. That artist himself had in all likelihood  experienced a violent death but his love of the Canadian Shield has delighted the eyes of millions.
Tyrants and also people’s elected governments, ours is no exception, have placed their trust in “reeking tube and iron shard”, read:  in jets and their ordnance of death.
The other day a friend of mine who claims to be an atheist vigorously defended Richard Dawkin’s assertion that religion is the cause of most wars. There is unfortunately plenty of evidence to support his claims. But I come back to that writer to the little flock in Corinth who said that “love never fails.” However, when religion pursues power through oppression, as it often has by Inquisition or ethnic cleansing, or residential schools, it surrenders its most effective weapon, love.
Thus I found the scene of the embrace on the pavement of Georgia street  in downtown Vancouver," the world’s most livable city," surrounded by besotted revellers and police  with shields and batons, their humanity disguised by helmets and masks, a powerful reminder  that love is the greatest .
Thanks be to that apostle of the man of peace for this 2000 year old poetic reminder. And thanks be to those who give life to that spirit of Eros, Philia and Agape in every age and certainly in our own time.  


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