Tradition suggests that the Portrait of Love given by St Paul (1Corinthians13: 4-13) is a description of Jesus himself.
I love it so much.
"Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other peoples sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes."
How wonderful it would be if love was the prefix of all my thoughts. If I simply loved first. If I felt love before I appraised my child's appearance or demeanor.... (Especially in public)
When it comes to my children I have to check myself at times. Am I connecting with them before I criticize. Do I notice the unwashed faces, uncombed hair and jeans smeared with grass stains before I notice them. Their hearts, their thoughts, their perspective, their intentions.
Am I loving them first.
When they fuss, cry, whine...need, am I looking at the outward behaviour first or the inner cause of it?
Am I looking for others approval or shying from criticism before tending to loving my children?
And if they resist me then, why should I wonder.
Love is fluid, able to find it's way through the smallest gaps like sunlight through a crack in the curtain which penetrates a whole room with quivering light.
Love breaks down barriers of resistance. Love disarms. Love stands with open arms. Love tries to find a way to connect not control.
When love is the initiator of action, it can offer us so much extra strength, purpose and grace. It becomes the wind in our sails, propelling us onward towards through difficulty, trial, pain and grief. I've often realised how much more joy I get from serving my children when I do it in a true spirit of love rather than duty.
If love flows through us, the spirit flows through us too. Love is like pure water, rinsing our eyes with clarity. Flowing freely, seeping into every dark corner, every tiny space.
And from the flow our children drink.
My children are nourished by the abundance available in my own store.
Of all the things I will pray to be mindful of I will pray to be mindful of my children's hearts first.
Mary stopped, Mary stilled, Mary sat down and listened instead of rushing around thinking her own tasks were the most important thing.... And Mary chose the better way.
Tending to Love first.