You may or may not know that I was raised in the Antiochian Orthodox Church. My family of origin is deeply rooted in this ancient tribe that ties itself back to the earliest of Christians. It is committed to its rituals, its legacy and its culture.
When I was in my late teens early twenties, I served at the “Antiochian Village” as a camp councilor – and one evening session the Metropolitan, kind of like our version of a Patriarch/Pope/High Priest was visiting – when he gave his sermon, he said being there was like an “explosion of Love.”
That phrase has stayed with me, and arises most often when I am with my family of origin and extended, international family. This past weekend we had a family wedding, and people literally joined from all over the world. It is as if they all just stop their lives, rearrange their schedules, pack their bags, and come to what we affectionately call, “Holy Toledo.” Somehow this place in the world, has become home to a large tribe of Lebanese peeps from the Bekka Valley.
I wonder often what would have happened if my father had gone to Chicago, LA or New York when he came to North America in the early 70s. He had come for school, and didn’t necessarily intend to remain, and then there is circumstances of living in this world that inspire different outcomes than we may have imagined. Nonetheless, he landed here in Toledo, Ohio, and about 100 others joined us this weekend, for an “explosion of Love.”
They all said, “yes” to Love. Maybe it made them uncomfortable, to not be in the church for the “sacrament of marriage.” Maybe the other side of the family had expectations about what they wanted to experience – but whatever they thought, or felt, they showed up, and said, “yes,” let’s celebrate Love. Let’s rearrange our lives, our minds, our feelings, and say “yes!” every opportunity we have.
Let’s say “yes” even when we know it will make others uncomfortable. Let’s say “yes” even when we feel afraid that we are making the wrong decision. Let’s say “yes” when we know in our heart that it is time to make a change. Love is gentle and kind, and in my experience, it also asks us to stretch, to break through the limits we place on ourselves. Love is also endless, open and accepting.
My husband took this picture of me by my dad’s 66 Cadillac. It was late in the night after the wedding, the children were asleep and we were having a little party ourselves. I am so grateful I said “yes” to him, to love, when it came knocking on my door in Stockholm only 2 months after Larry had passed. What if I had said “no” – people will talk (they did anyway), “no” I’m not ready – I am too sad, or “no” I’m afraid that others will think I didn’t love Larry. What if I said, “no” I don’t want to share this picture, it’s too revealing! Or whatever my inner critic wants to say….then we wouldn’t be having this conversation on, Love.
Love requires us to be brave. To step out of the box. To be confident. To be open to its gifts in packaging we may not have asked for. Saying “yes,” brings us many more gifts than we could ever see with the body’s eyes. Dad said “yes” to Toledo, and a beautiful life unfolded, family said “yes” to travel and bring the love of family and culture together at the same place and the same time, I said “yes” to Love again, and became a mother among a multitude of other blessings – and you say “yes” to love everyday you decide to smile at someone on the street as your brother and friend.
Love will lead us to the places we want to go – even if we don’t have a 66 Cadillac to drive us, Love knows the way, all we have to do, is say “yes” sit back, and enjoy the ride. Let’s trust Love, it is indeed intelligent and has a Master plan, dear friends. Say “yes” as much as you can, and experience daily, “explosions of Love.”