Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How to love everybody - Nesdoly

 "Love...does not seek its own..." 1 Corinthians 13:5.

Adrian Plass tells this story of an epiphany he had when he was ten:

"As I sat on the front seat of the big green Maidstone and District bus, a sixpenny bit and a penny clutched in my hand ready for the conductor, a phrase I had read earlier repeated itself over and over in my mind.

'Everybody is I.'

For some reason, I sensed an important inner core of meaning in the words, but I was unable to dig it out. I was frustrated and fascinated by the problem....

[...] Suddenly I stiffened. Body erect, hands flat on the ledge below the window, I pressed my forehead against the glass and stared in amazement at the crowds on the pavement below. The true meaning of those three simple but puzzling words had exploded into my mind, destroying the illusion that I was the centre of the universe, and leaving me to cope, for the rest of my life, with the burden of knowledge. Every one of those people down there in the street, walking the pavements, driving cars, waiting for buses — every single one, whatever they were, whatever they looked like, whatever I thought of them, were as important to themselves as I was to myself!

I shook my head, trying to clear it of this incredible notion. Everybody is I...That funny, bent old lady with the mouth drooping on one side — she mattered, she was vital — central. The bus conductor who had interrupted my mental churning earlier; he wasn't just a bit player in my world. He was the star in his own. He had a head full of thoughts and feelings; a life inside him; he was the reason that the earth went on turning. My own father and mother, my brothers, aunts, uncles, all my friends — all were 'I' Everybody was I, and at that moment I was somehow aware that I would probably never learn a more important lesson." Adrian Plass, From Growing Up Pains to the Sacred Diary, p. 20,21.

In our quest to learn about love, to learn how to love, the realization that "Everybody is I" is a good place to start. As we, in our imaginations, put ourselves into another's shoes, it becomes much easier to suffer long, be kind, humble, polite, patient, etc.

It is the other-centered love we see emanating from Jesus when He speaks to the Samaritan woman, cuddles and blesses babies, parties with tax collectors, names for the Rich Young Ruler the one thing that keeps him from being a follower, and in so many other incidents does the thing that communicates God's love.

The miracle of Christ in us is that through His indwelling Spirit, He can transmit through us to those around us the love Jesus showed to those around Him when He lived on earth.

A version of this article was first published on Other Food: daily devos, February 14, 2011.




Peter Black said...

Violet, I was aware of Adrian Plass's name but had no idea who he was. Thank you for this introduction to him and his ministry and works. His epiphany at 10 -- a marvellous place to start.

Carolyn said...

I love this, Violet, it reminds me of a similar passage in one of L'Engles youth fiction books I remember reading as a kid and having a similar epiphany. It also reminds me of Sara Grove's wonderful song "Abstraction":

The girl looks out from the window of the airplane
20,000 feet up in the sky
She picks a rooftop in the middle of the town
and wonders what is happening inside

The tv in the kitchen flashes faces
The woman slowly pushes in the chairs
Her neighbors son is fighting in the army
She's concentrating to remember where

Who can know the pain the joy the regret the satisfaction/passion
Who can know the love of one life, one heart, one soul
at two you're at abstraction

The man is waiting for the bus into the city
He's grabs a drink slowly reads the Times
His heart is captured by a story of a child
Around the world/ miles away but always on his mind

A million this a million that
A mass sum of individuals
A million come/here a million go/there
Made up of a million souls

violet said...

Wow - what a song! Thanks.

And I think it's so incredible that you two (Carolyn, and Adrian Plass) had such sophisticated philosophical epiphanies at so young!

Peter, Adrian Plass accompanied Steve Bell on one of his troubadour tours a few years ago. That's how I was introduced to him, and got his book.

violet said...

Here's the YouTube of Sarah's song that Carolyn quotes above.

Popular Posts