I John 9:7-8 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God … but the unloving know nothing of God. For God is love.
The other day I saw a You Tube video talking about the cruelty of bullying. I think most of us can say we have all been bullied at one time or another. As I watched this video a memory swept over me and it took me to a place and time where I stood up for a childhood friend.
I must have only been 10 or 11 but my heart smiles as I think about that young girl who stood up to five or six kids who called her friend a “retard.” Honestly at that age I don’t think I even knew what that meant. But what I did know was this — a group of kids was making my friend cry and that made my 10-year-old heart boil with anger.
My friend’s name was Darcy, and I truly loved her. I loved her as a childhood friend and didn’t know there was anything wrong with her, until that dreadful morning waiting for the school bus.
Darcy’s mom ran a pre-school in her home. Shiny tile floors that sparkled and smelled oh so clean. Tables of different shapes and sizes, wooden puzzles galore and crayons a variety of hues, bold and beautiful. Oh, and the outdoor play equipment – just there for Darcy and me on those special occasions. When I would spend the nights with my friend, we would play for hours in this magical place dedicated to teaching children to learn, love and grow.
I believe this event at the bus stop was my first lesson in defending a friend and probably my first experience of rising up to meet the bully. I remember Darcy’s mom coming out to the bus stop and rescuing us both. Darcy weeping and me fuming and chattering, fists raised, ready to slay the dragon. Darcy was grateful she had a friend in me and I was troubled people could be so mean.
That was oh so long ago. When those children that day called my friend a name, I now know it showed more about them than it ever did about Darcy. There was nothing wrong with Darcy, she lived into the beauty of the Christ Spirit – displaying the gift of compassion, love and mercy. This is what I loved about her — She Was Love, and there was no judgement from her.
I believe when many of us look at pure love, sometimes it is too much to bare, we question it or we don’t think we are worthy of it. Maybe it even angers us, torments us, and we feel it has betrayed us. Friends I encourage all of us to find a place this week to take a journey deep inside our souls.
Do we dare face the bully that sometimes demeans us? The bully who plants doubt with-in us. If you are like me, that bully list could go on and on. The hope is: there is nothing that can’t be repaired with-in us. I pray you have a community group who loves you, and wants what is best for you.
Love is powerful – and like the Christ Spirit it can heal us and make us whole. I believe Jesus lived into the example of what the church is to be. It is a community where all are welcome and treated with dignity, respect and kindness. May we all be about the business of creating communities of love, hope and peace.
Prayer … God thank you for the gift of Darcy. She was a precious and valued friend. Remind us of the extraordinary gift of kindness, I believe it can change the world. Amen.
Nancy E. McCormick is Co-Pastor of Chester and Springfield Friends.