Contemplative Life

A mantle or bird house: how do you think about your friendships?

A mantle is the place where we display prized valuable possessions in the most prestigious spot in our house.  I always feel like my mantle at home is always missing just the right object.  By contrast, a simple bird house, exposed to the elements, is built to be enjoyed by any creature who may find its way there.  Some creatures use it for a few brief moments, some may live there for a season, and some may treat it as their permanent home.  But in the end, we don’t know who will visit this little abode.

If something falls off the mantle it is obvious something is missing, we are disappointed, to some degree, by the loss. If a creature leaves the birdhouse we bid it goodbye.

Countless times I have been disappointed and hurt after investing in a friendship, only to find my efforts are not reciprocated.

As Jesus sends out his disciples “like sheep among wolves” in Mt. 10, the wellspring of motivation becomes less about “what we get out it” and more about being motivated by the selfless love of Christ.  Freely you have received, freely give (Mt. 10:8).  Jesus teaches how to love with His selfless and pure motivation.  Rather than wondering if others will return the favor, Jesus’ “no strings attached” love births a liberating freedom and purity to our friendships.

Despite my best efforts, friends and neighbors come and go.  Seasons of desolation and loneliness and seasons of rich abundance are our lot.  Let us grow in deeper communion with the Lord regardless, keeping the door to our hearts open in season and out.  Increasingly may I prepare my heart more like the bird house than the prized mantle.

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