Faces on Faith: Toilet paper and the way of love
Last spring, I read a book called “The Unhurried Leader.” (Don’t laugh. Especially those of you who know my tendency to run from one thing to another — always in a rush. But give me a break here, I’m trying to use this time of forced isolation and a slowed down pattern to learn a new trick or two.)
In the book, author Alan Fadling writes about the importance of leading from abundance. Not an abundance of skill or talent, but rather an abundance of love. Love for God, love of God, love from God. “When I seek God’s kingdom first,” he writes, “I find my vision … is rooted in the abundance of God’s presence; no longer am I adrift in experiences of apparent scarcity … [that] can make me resentful, fearful, anxious, and controlling. [Rather living] from a place of real abundance enables me to do so from a place of joy, peace and security.” (18)
Too often we live out of a fear of scarcity, rather than out of the security love has to offer. Why do you think you couldn’t find toilet paper at the supermarket? We were told by the experts that folks had stockpiled it, hoarded it, stacked it up, roll on roll, so that some had more than enough, way more than enough, while others had none! But if we act out of love — and this is as basic an application as I can find — then we take what we need for ourselves, and no more, leaving the rest for others who also have need. That’s what it means to love. That’s what it means to have abundant life. It means caring about the other guy, and not just yourself. It means not letting fear rule your life, but rather letting love be in charge.
Eryn Morris is a nurse and the care coordinator at East Alabama Medical Center. Late in March she tested positive for COVID-19. She was quarantined at home for 17 days, experiencing some of the symptoms, but eventually recovering.
Morris had heard that blood plasma, taken from those who recovered from COVID-19, could lessen the intensity of the disease in those who suffered the most in hospital beds and intensive care units. That bit of information served as a ray of hope for her. “I had a lot of time to think about [those] patients when I was sick … [and realized] … somebody else … could benefit from the antibodies in my plasma.” On April 23, Morris became the first plasma donor in her part of the state.
When we are sharing things like toilet paper and even our life’s blood with our neighbors, we are following the way of love, a way that leads to a sense of security, not fear, a place of safety, not danger. When we are living out of love, we are living an abundant life — even in the midst of a pandemic.
The Rev. Dr. John H. Danner is the senior pastor at Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ.