Do you struggle with spiritual dryness from time to time? I certainly do. St. Augustine offers an appropriate remedy for spiritual dryness.
In commenting on Jesus’ commandment to “to love one another as I have loved you,” Augustine says, “This is the kind of love that renews us. When we love as he loved us we become new men, heirs of the new covenant and singers of the new song.” He says this kind of love is distinguished from natural love by the qualification: “as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
So, the lesson seems to be, if you want renewal in your life, love others as Jesus loves us. And, how does Jesus love us? By the greatest act of humility ever recorded, he became one of his created. Then, after teaching, modeling, encouraging, listening, healing and serving, he laid down his life for us. He characterizes the latter action as, “No one has greater love than this.” (John 15:13)
If someone were keeping score, I am sure I have had many more failures to love according to this standard than successes, but nevertheless, I am blessed with a loving family and other opportunities to love as Jesus loved.
One such opportunity involves taking communion to shut-ins and a nearby senior living center. On Palm Sunday and Easter this year, I had the privilege of taking communion to a lovely and gracious lady who is a 104 years young.
What a delightful person she was and what a blessing it was to listen to her share about her outlook on life and the events of her life transpiring over a century in time. I was advised that while she could speak without any problem, she had some difficulty hearing and that there would be a pad nearby her chair that I could use to ask her questions or comment on what she would say. Surprisingly, this method of communication did not deter or limit our conversation. I would listen to what she had to say, and then write out a comment or question.
I heard about where she and her late husband were born, about his Scottish heritage, her children and grandchildren and their families. It turned out that we had some similarities in our heritage and in the number of children we had, and in my mother-in-law who lived to be 103. This just delighted her. Each time I took her communion, we visited for more than thirty minutes.
Of her many gems of wisdom, my favorite was, “At my age, I think only nice thoughts.”
In the weeks following these visits, my spirit was renewed. My prayer time and reading of scripture took on a new life and vibrancy. St. Augustine was right.