The Joy of Love

Each week here in St. Louis, the members of the Emergency Response Team go out on project, focusing on fire prevention and conservation throughout southern Missouri.  We scatter out as teams of 4 to 6, camping, working and growing together as the week flashes by.  We hike through the snow and ice to construct firelines, dig in and create new trails, or cut out and fall snags and hazard trees.  It is a joy to work in the outdoors, embracing the frozen chill of the morning, the exhaustion after a hard days work, and the friendships of living and working together.

But there is something beautiful that happens when we all return from our travels and gather once again.  At the end of every week, we return to the office to pack in our equipment and gear, and many times there is a joy that fills the air, that you can feel as we greet one another with hugs and embraces of friendship. We share stories and joke around like we’ve known each other for much longer than the three short months that we’ve been standing side by side with one another.

Each week it makes me smile.  And I realized something while having a conversation today with a member of another AmeriCorps program; that feeling of joy that fills the room each week is more than happiness, but a pure, unfiltered love that pours out from the soul.

I am no expert in love when it comes to relationships and its contemporary meaning.  The love I know is that that flows forth from God to consume who we are.  It’s a raw emotion that cannot be put into words and is incapable of being captured in four letters that we toss around on a daily basis.

Several years ago, I felt this Love for the first time through the community aboard the M/V Africa Mercy.  It was like a sticky fog that you could cut through with a knife.  You could feel it all around you.  It consumed me as I learned what it was to serve.  I stood alongside the amazing individuals of the dinning hall staff and their joy was like no other.

Yes, it was hard work and long hours at times, but the laughter that filled the air and the smiles that we shared (and the hugs, the goofiness, and water fights) were a pure expression of love.

I felt the same joy as I held the hand of a beautiful daughter of God.  And when I spent time with my niece and nephew.  And when I breathed in the cold mountain air and watched the sun set over Indian Creek Trail out in Montana.

This joy is love.

In some ways, I love each and every one of the people I work with (no matter how much they annoy the [edit] out of me).  They are like family.

We all know the Biblical verses of love.  But it is so much more.

I pray that every person has the chance to discover the pure joy of love in their journey through this life.  Even in the darkness we can find it.  And while sometimes it slips from our grasp as our paths intersect and diverge from one another, it is better to love and have it lost than to never have experienced love at all.

God Bless and PEACE

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