What You Love Well, Remains
I used to draw and paint.
When I was a kid, someone told my mother I had promise, so she spent money our family didn't have to get me oil painting lessons, and then tutoring with a retired art teacher, who specialized in pencil.
I took lessons all the way through middle school and into high school before I finally convinced my mom to give up.
You see, I realized that in order to be a truly great artist, I was going to have to work hard at it. Talent will only get you so far, unless you are a prodigy, and I was no prodigy.
And I wanted to play sports, hang with my friends, have a girlfriend... So I set aside my paints and pencils and never really picked them up again.
After my mom passed away, I was going through some of her belongings, trying to determine what to keep, what to store and what to let go. I had to smile when I found some of my drawings, and a painting of mine that she'd kept.
I thought back to those lessons that she couldn't afford.
She took some of them with me, just so I wouldn't feel strange as the only kid in the class. When I was in high school, she would drive me to my drawing lessons, and bribe me on the way home with a McDonald's hamburger and a shake.
I never became the artist that she one day thought I might become. I let go of that long ago. But what I never let go of was the memories of those days, and how she made me feel smart and special, loved and affirmed.
A few days ago, I read an incredible line from the poet Ezra Pound, that truly speaks directly into how I felt:
What thou lovest well remains, the rest is drossAnd what does it mean to love "well?" It means that we hold the best highest. We lift up truth and beauty when we see it. It means that we don't live in regret over the things we've lost, or the things we let go.
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov'st well is thy true heritage...
It means we get to hold on to the moments where we unexpectedly receive grace, unconditional love, affirmation and acceptance... the moments where we are enveloped in the arms of the Christ.
Jesus exhorted his followers to focus on eternal things---the things that mattered most. He told them that if they would put all their energies into those things, they would experience the fullness of life.
If you are struggling today with the pain of regret. If you feel as though you have failed to be the person you thought you should be. If you are having difficulty experiencing joy because of shame or guilt...
Don't be afraid to let all of it go. Remember the moments when you knew peace. Recall the days when you were filled with joy. And know that those are forever.
Love them well... let them shape your present and give you hope for tomorrow. And know that you are loved well--more than you could possibly imagine.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.