Saturday, November 12, 2005

Love is Eternal


"We don't see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright!"

The city of Jinan sits in the valley between the rolling hills of Shandong Province. In the fall while the weather is trying to make up its mind to be hot or cold - foggy conditions are quite normal. Still unsure of the time zone, my body wakes up around 6:00 am and I peer outside to greet the Chinese sunrise.

The haze is dense and, a mixture of pollution and fog marring the beauty with a smoky smelling smog. The elderly, already below my window in spite of the hour, practice the art of Tai Chi at the University Park.

The Eastern world slowly awakens.

Like the purposeful movements in Tai Chi, questions are posed during "divine appointments" and the answers exercised to bring strength to the asker.

Saturday night we had dinner with a long-time friend of J and D's. A party member, who initially showed great interest in their belief system, but still 5 years later has made no move toward a change of heart.

It is customary here to exchange gifts when meeting again with old acquaintances. A, graciously received the items we brought to him and he presented B and I his expression for this re-meeting.

The first was a collectors folder with Chinese money displayed. But the second is what piqued real interesting conversation.

It was a commemorative folder which had the slogan printed in English "Love is Eternal". Opening the trifold display were 2 envelopes with a graphic logo and again the English words "love is eternal." A. went on to explain this is a campaign to raise money for the underprivileged children, and has gained popularity all across the country. "I give this to you because of your love for many years for the Chinese children". I thanked him, and posed the question " do you believe love is eternal?"

"Oh yes, of course, love never dies."

For all his unresponsiveness to a change of life, his heart is responsive to displays of love.

Too often, our mindset becomes self-righteous and indignant "why don't THEY - get IT?"

But for a man in his position, to make a profession of such nature would have drastic and most likely immediate consequence. He would lose his job, his apartment, and his place in the community of established party members. His wife would also be jeopardized, losing her job, and his 18 year old son's future at the university would probably come to an end. It is a sacrifice we can scarcely imagine.

We DON'T see things clearly now. We ARE looking "through a glass darkly." We need to be careful not to quickly condemn that which we cannot understand.

"But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do... trust steadily in God,hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love."

Even a Communist in China sees that -
Love is Eternal!