Now abideth faith, hope, and charity. And the greatest of these is charity.
Charity. That’s love. I love. Love my family, love my blogger friends, love everyone I associate with. Why should I not? You all are – squeaky clean, hair shining, look good – you even smell good. You read my posts, comment with encouraging words, laugh at my jokes, and cry with my tears. Love. Love? Perhaps not.
Let me tell you a story. It involves a woman, a boy, a dress, and me. The woman was Billy’s mother. I don’t recall any other name for her. She was like a tree. No, not tall and willowy. She was like those trees that grow down in south Texas. Those along the coast. Wind blown, and bent in the storms. Ugly, knarled and old. Surely not so old in years, however, since she had borne a child not so many years before. She walked Billy to school each morning. Came in the building with him. He was not overtly rude to her but he tried to put some distance between them. He was embarrassed. There, most of the kids and their mothers were plain, poor, and unkempt. But Billy was cuter, smarter, cleaner, less shabbily dressed, a cut above the rest, the lone evidence of this woman’s pride and the beneficiary of her love.
Now to my part in the story. Sunday morning. The church was beautiful. The performers talented. The people, like you, were pretty people, handsome men, lovely ladies, squeaky clean, shining hair, looked good, smelled good. You know the kind I mean. The preacher was passionate as he said something like this, “Anyone can love the lovely but how much do you love the unlovely?” Billy’s mother. Billy’s mother. Billy’s mother. Compelled by a mission to reach out to her, I went to her home. I specifically remember two things I saw there. One was a dried up bologna skin; the other was a utility bill. I would like to tell you that I paid the utility bill for her, and that I took her and Billy into my home for a real meal. But I cannot, because I did not. I did attempt to do something however. One of the things I knew I could do was give her a dress. I can always find a dress to give away. There is never a time when I don’t have dresses I haven’t worn in ages. Some don’t fit, some are out of style, some have to be dry-cleaned, some are uncomfortable, some are ugly, some have to be ironed, some are ok, but they have a tired look. But, LOVE spoke to me, “Why would you add more ugly to her life: How about your brown dress?” My brown dress! I liked my brown dress. It was comfortable, easy to take care of, and looked pretty good, buttoned down the front, and accented with a gold and orange leaf lapel pin. Just the kind of dress that lady needed. I knew what LOVE demanded. No other dress would do. I took the dress to her. I don’t recall any part of our conversation, but I hope LOVE talked to her.
My story stops short here. You see. Only a few days later, Billy’s mother died. I don’t know what happened to Billy, but I hope that during his mama’s funeral, he didn’t try to put distance between them. I hope he did not see a scraggly old tree. I hope he saw a protecting elm overshadowing him with daily trudges to school; I hope he saw the evergreen with never a day off, faithful to him even unto death; I hope he saw an apple tree that bore one almost perfect piece of fruit – a “cut above the rest”; I hope he saw an autumn oak; I hope he thought she looked pretty lying there in her LOVE-given wash-n-wear—the brown dress accented with an orange and gold lapel pin.
How puny is what we generally call love! Now abideth faith, hope, and charity. Charity – being willing to give away what we don’t want! Get rid of it so we can have storage space for other things we don’t want! No. No. No.
From Billy’s mother to Jesus Christ, I have learned that LOVE puts all its resources, meager or abundant, into the object of its affection.
For God so loved the world, that He gave – He gave – He gave –
NOW ABIDETH LOVE