My months of effort on a particular project were finished as I waited for others to see it through to the next stage. The obstacles and opponents outnumbered and intimidated me. One morning, while in the middle of that ordeal, I was a guest at the home of friends when I discovered a quote pinned to their wall. It is from a very thick book which I do not claim to have read: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (although in 1992 I watched the fabulous Flying Karamazov Brothers, a juggling troupe). Anyhow, I snapped a photo of the quote with my smart phone (as you do) so I could keep it at hand. I want to share it with you in case you’ve created something you love, in which your mission all along was love and now you sit back,anxiously watching the obstacles pop up in front of it, wondering if a mission of love is enough to power it through to the other side of its opponents.
Here’s the quote:
“..love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams. Love in dreams is greedy for immediate action, rapidly performed and in the sight of all. Men will even give their lives if only the ordeal does not last long but is soon over, with all looking on and applauding as though on the stage. But active love is labor and fortitude, and for some people too, perhaps, a complete science. But I predict that just when you see with horror that in spite of all your efforts you are getting farther from your goal instead of nearer to it — at that very moment I predict that you will reach it and behold clearly the miraculous power of the Lord who has been all the time loving and mysteriously guiding you.
It is a quote which assures us of breakthroughs. We need other people to give us a break, to cut us some slack, to lay off, to crack open the door, to do us a solid, to make way for a breakthrough. When love is our mission, that fact is more important that the details of the actual project. I want to believe that when love is the mission, that mission will see the project through to the other side. We now have a little solar powered machine wandering around Mars because a team of people had a mission of sending it there and worked on that crazy endeavor. Sure, they are into robotics and geology and solar panels but I guarantee you that it was love (of discovery, of exploration, of being the first at something) that motivated them. Whatever your own project, if it is in a holding pattern, as St. Francis’ plane was above my lovely home state of North Carolina for a long time today, double check to make sure that love is your mission and if it’s not, re calibrate some things so that it is.
Here’s the connection to St. Francis of Assisi: he wanted to find his way in this world. He tried many paths with many fits and starts. Following his dad’s footsteps as a merchant did not work out for him. Being a solider was a bad match. The monastery he ran to stuck him in the dishwasher’s area without even a change of clothes and he was left trying to figure it all out, likely entertaining the fleeting thoughts that he really had lost it and had just made a series of big mistakes. The Lord brought the right people and circumstances into his life to help him find his way. It was around the time he would have “sense(d) in horror that in spite of all [his] efforts [he] is getting farther from [his goal] instead of nearer to it” that a path emerged from the wood and he knew which way to go next. All along, love was his mission and it saw him through to the end of his very short yet influential life of service.