Reflections on covenants made with love, themes from 1 Corinthians 13.

This week we celebrate the renewal of Ray & Arden’s Wedding Vows during the year of their 60th anniversary: such vows are bound as a covenant made in the sight and presence of holy love (agape).


This is our great covenant: To dwell together in peace,
To seek the truth in love, And to help one another.  
— James Vila Blake

Link to scripture, focusing on verses 4-8a and 13. For prior reflections on agape (holy love) contrasted with other forms of love, visit this post.

Questions to consider:

  • What vows, oaths, pledges and promises have you made to an individual, entity or organization?
  • Which covenants and promises have included a promise of love?
  • What promises were made to you in return? Did those reciprocal vows or promises also include love?
  • What practices support your ability to keep your promise?
  • What symbols signify those promises? Do you wear or carry them on your person?
  • What is the difference between a covenant and a contract?

Are you fleeing from Love because of a single humiliation?What do you know of Love except the name?
… Since Love is loyal, it purchases one who is loyal:
it has no interest in a disloyal companion.
The human being resembles a tree; its root is a covenant with God:
that root must be cherished with all one’s might.
A weak covenant is a rotten root, without grace or fruit.
Though the boughs and leaves of the date palm are green,
greenness brings no benefit if the root is corrupt.
If a branch is without green leaves, yet has a good root,
a hundred leaves will put forth their hands in the end.
— Rumi

Appalachian Elegy (Section 6)— bell hooks

listen little sister / angels make their hope here
in these hills / follow me
I will guide you / careful now / no trespass
I will guide you / word for word / mouth for mouth
all the holy ones / embracing us
all our kin / making home here
renegade marooned / lawless fugitives / grace these mountains
we have earth to bind us
the covenant / between us / can never be broken
vows to live and let live

On Covenants

To every people the land is given on condition. Perceived or not, there is a Covenant, beyond the constitution, beyond sovereign guarantee, beyond the nation’s sweetest dreams of itself. — Leonard Cohen

When you look in the dictionary for the most important word, do you know what it is? It could be remember. Because all of you have made covenants — you know what to do and you know how to do it — our greatest need is to remember. — Spencer W. Kimball

Mother Earth needs us to keep our covenant. We will do this in courts, we will do this on our radio station, and we will commit to our descendants to work hard to protect this land and water for them. Whether you have feet, wings, fins, or roots, we are all in it together. — Winona LaDuke

The word ‘slavery’ and ‘right’ are contradictory, they cancel each other out. Whether as between one man and another, or between one man and a whole people, it would always be absurd to say: “I hereby make a covenant with you which is wholly at your expense and wholly to my advantage; I will respect it so long as I please and you shall respect it as long as I wish. — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Peace does not rest in the charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of all people. So let us not rest all our hopes on parchment and on paper, let us strive to build peace, a desire for peace, a willingness to work for peace in the hearts and minds of all of our people. I believe that we can. I believe the problems of human destiny are not beyond the reach of human beings. — John F. Kennedy

Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence and deem them like the Ark of the Covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. — Edmund Morgan

The best way to strengthen a home, current or future, is to keep covenants.  — Linda K. Burton

Sociologists argue that in contemporary Western society the marketplace has become so dominant that the consumer model increasingly characterizes most relationships that historically were covenantal, including marriage. Today we stay connected to people only as long as they are meeting our particular needs at an acceptable cost to us. When we cease to make a profit – that is, when the relationship appears to require more love and affirmation from us than we are getting back – then we “cut our losses” and drop the relationship. This has also been called “commodification,” a process by which social relationships are reduced to economic exchange relationships, and so the very idea of “covenant” is disappearing in our culture. ― Timothy Keller

Dalai Lama’s Commentary

With a wish to free all beings
I shall always go for refuge
to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha
until I reach full enlightenment.

Enthused by wisdom and compassion,
today in the Buddha’s presence
I generate the Mind for Full Awakening
for the benefit of all sentient beings.

As long as space endures,
as long as sentient being remain,
until then, may I too remain
and dispel the miseries of the world.

In conclusion, those who like myself, consider themselves to be followers of Buddha, should practice as much as we can.

To followers of other religious traditions, I would like to say, “Please practice your own religion seriously and sincerely.”

And to non-believers, I request you to try to be warm-hearted. I ask this of you because these mental attitudes actually bring us happiness. As I have mentioned before, taking care of others actually benefits you. — 14th Dalai Lama

Holy Covenants: Jewish & Christian Commentary

In legal language, a covenant generally denotes an agreement between two or more parties. But in a religious context, a covenant is much more significant. It is a sacred promise with God. [God] fixes the terms. — Russell M. Nelson

God doesn’t want us to have rigid rituals with Him. In the new covenant, He is more interested in having a relationship with us. — Joseph Prince

The Israelites frequently forsook God, and he as frequently forsook them. But when they repented and returned to him, he remembered his covenant and delivered them from their distresses. — Adoniram Judson

A covenant made with God should be regarded not as restrictive but as protective. — Russell M. Nelson

The work of man is to respond to the Covenant by obeying the commandments of the Torah, those commandments that can be obeyed here and now. — David Novak

Then God establishes his Covenant with Noah, and with his sons, “and with every living creature.” Many recall the Covenant with Noah, but forget the Covenant with all other living Beings. However, God does not forget it. He repeats the terms “all flesh” and “every living creature” a number of times, to make sure we get the point. No one can make a Covenant with a stone: for a Covenant to exist, there must. be a minimum of two live and responsible parties to it. Therefore the Animals are not senseless matter, not mere chunks of meat. No; they have souls, or God could not have made a Covenant with them. The human Words of God affirm this: “But ask now the beasts,” says Job 12, “and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee … and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.” ― Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood

When God makes a covenant with us, God says: ‘I will love you with an everlasting love. I will be faithful to you, even when you run away from me, reject me, or betray me.’ In our society we don’t speak much about covenants; we speak about contracts. When we make a contract with a person, we say: ‘I will fulfill my part as long as you fulfill yours. When you don’t live up to your promises, I no longer have to live up to mine.’ Contracts are often broken because the partners are unwilling or unable to be faithful to their terms. But God didn’t make a contract with us; God made a covenant with us, and God wants our relationships with one another to reflect that covenant. That’s why marriage, friendship, life in community are all ways to give visibility to God’s faithfulness in our lives together.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith

Things that become important to economies become ritualized and become deified. Because I’m Jewish, I always thought it was interesting that in Judaism, salt seals a bargain, particularly the covenant with God. Some people, when they bless bread, they dip it in salt. Same thing exists in Islam. — Mark Kurlansky

Marriage has a unique place because it speaks of an absolute faithfulness, a covenant between radically different persons, male and female; and so it echoes the absolute covenant of God with his chosen, a covenant between radically different partners. — Rowan Williams

Settle this in your heart: Whether I am up or down, the Lord Jesus is the same. Whether I sing or sigh, the promise is true and the Promiser is faithful. Whether I stand on the summit or am hidden in the vale the covenant stands fast and everlasting love abides. — Charles Spurgeon


Reflections on Mother’s Day Theme of Wisdom

Mother’s Day Theme – Sophia as Wisdom
Patanjali, Buddha, Moses and Jesus did not go to workshops or seminars or even churches. They went directly to nature: sat under a Bodhi tree or on top of a mountain or in a cave. … It is time to return to the source of this inspiration – the earth itself. ― Dolores Lachapelle, Earth Wisdom

… It´s not about Win or lose We all lose
When they feed on the souls of the innocent Blood drenched pavement
Keep on moving though the waters stay raging
In this maze you can lose your way (your way)
It might drive you crazy But don’t let it faze you no way (no way)
Gotta hold on Livin life day by day
Gotta hold on Put your focus on that one day

All my life I´ve been waiting for I´ve been praying for
For the people to say That we don´t wanna fight no more
There´ll be no more wars And our children will play
One day (one day), One day (one day) …

One day this all will change Treat people the same
Stop with the violence Down with the hate
One day we´ll all be free And proud to be
Under the same sun Singing songs of freedom like
Gotta hold on Livin life day by day
Gotta hold on Put your focus on that one day

All my life I´ve been waiting for I´ve been praying for
For the people to say That we don´t wanna fight no more
There´ll be no more wars And our children will play
One day (one day), One day (one day) …

Of Wisdom: Sometimes She’s a Feminine, Creative Holy Spirit

Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. — Ludwig van Beethoven

… This mysterious Unity and Integrity is Wisdom, the Mother of all, Natura naturans. There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fount of action and joy.  It rises up in wordless gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being, welcoming me tenderly, saluting me with indescribable humility. This is at once my own being, my own nature, and the Gift of my Creator’s Thought and Art within me, speaking as Hagia Sophia, speaking as my sister, Wisdom. I am awakened, I am born again at the voice of this my Sister, sent to me from the depths of the divine fecundity. — Thomas Merton

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself. — Rumi

Because you are women, people will force their thinking on you, their boundaries on you. They will tell you how to dress, how to behave, who you can meet and where you can go. Don’t live in the shadows of people’s judgement. Make your own choices in the light of your own wisdom. — Amitabh Bachchan

There is a wisdom of the head, and a wisdom of the heart.— Charles Dickens

To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him. — Buddha

Remember Proverbs 8?  Sophia, the Wisdom of God is described at the creation of the world as rejoicing in the inhabited world
 and delighting in the human race. I want the day to come when Christians are described not as judgmental but as those who, like the Wisdom of God, rejoice in the world and delight in humanity.   — Nadia Bolz-Weber

… if there is only one God, then why would we be surprised that there is a common wisdom coming through every stream? And how can we ever again possibly dismiss any of these traditions as possibly not being of God? “I believe that wisdom is where you go before theology, canons, creedal statements, denominations, because holy wisdom enables respect. The mystics of all traditions did not deal in creeds, in denominations and canons. The mystics dealt with enlightenment, insight and wisdom.” — Joan Chittister

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life. — Immanuel Kant

Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. — Francis of Assisi

What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness? — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

One need not be a mystic or have had a near-death experience to understand this … God … reflects a wisdom found in ancient scriptures, a spiritual vocabulary articulated by biblical heroes, saints, reformers, and the humble poor through the ages. And this impulse toward spiritual intimacy is found not only in the Abrahamic faiths, but in Buddhism, Hinduism, and native religions. … speaks of God with us, God in the stars and sunrise, God as the face of their neighbor, God in the act of justice, or God as the wonder of love. The language of divine nearness is the very heart of vibrant faith. — Diana Butler Bass

Every Single Thing I Know, as of Today — Anne Lamott

“I thought I might take the opportunity to write down every single thing I know, as of today … (excerpt)”

  • “Life is a precious unfathomably beautiful gift…And it [is] filled with heartbreaking sweetness and beauty, floods and babies and acne and Mozart, all swirled together.”
  •  “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
  •  “There is almost nothing outside of you that will help in any kind of last way, unless you are waiting for an organ. You can’t buy, achieve, or date it.”
  • “Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared, even the people who seem to have it more or less together. They are much more like you than you would believe. So try not to compare your insides to their outsides.”
  • “Families; hard, hard, hard, no matter how cherished and astonishing they may also be.”
  • “Food; try to do a little better.”
  • “The movement of grace is what changes us, heals us and our world. To summon grace, say, ‘Help!’ And then buckle up.”
  • “Emerson said that the happiest person on earth is the one who learns from nature the lessons of worship. So go outside a lot, and look up.”
  • “The love of our incredible dogs and cats is the closest most of us will come, on this side of eternity, to knowing the direct love of God; although cats can be so bitter, which is not the god part: the crazy Love is. Also, ‘Figure it out’ is not a good slogan.”
  • “Exercise: If you want to have a good life after you have grown a little less young, you must walk almost every day. There is no way around this.”
  • “Death; wow. So f-ing hard to bear, when the few people you cannot live without die. You will never get over these losses, and are not supposed to.”
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