Learning Love

Then fix this firmly in your minds: You're going to be in deep mourning while the godless world throws a party. You'll be sad, very sad, but your sadness will develop into gladness. When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there's no getting around it. But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth. This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain. The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming of joy is also similar. When I see you again, you'll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you. You'll no longer be so full of questions.
- John 16.20-22

To learn to love
is to be stripped of all love
until you are wholly without love
until you have gone
naked and afraid
into this cold dark place
where all love is taken from you
you will not know
that you are wholly within love.

- Madeleine L'Engle

I am going to try and write every weekday from now until Easter; essentially writing the Lenten season. I need to warn you that there may be a sadness to these posts, a "deep mourning." I would imagine "blood and ash" being a consistent theme. But it must be done; "there's no getting around it."

Maybe it will be like putting a "B Back Soon" sign on the door of The Dirty Shame. During regular hours, I'll be out. But in the cold dark hours of the night, I'll sneak back in (since I have the key) and leave notes pushpinned to the message board for the regulars to read and ponder. I'll put a few logs on the fire before I leave so there'll be a little warmth when you arrive.

Madeleine says I have to go "naked and afraid." Sometimes, I don't like Madeleine. But I trust her. Jesus said it'll be a pain similar to a woman giving birth. Sometimes, I don't like Jesus. But I trust him, even more than I trust Madeleine. Both of these trustworthy voices indicate a movement toward gladness, a knowing that you are "wholly within love."

So I invite you to stop in on Monday, order your usual, and read the message board. Sometimes, you may not like what you read. You may not trust the writer, but I hope you'll trust the words. Joy is coming. At least that's what Madeleine and Jesus say. And I trust them.


  1. Thanks John. I'm stuggling with the pain today. I also love Madeline. I was so sad to hear she died last year, yet something in me actually got happy becuase I think she's more able to help me now as a saint on the other side. And then I thought "am I catholic?" ; )

  2. ...thank you for writing daily


    ...and know that I also trust you