Tell me a story of love that grows like an apple tree; and anyone can stop to rest in its shade or relieve the gnaw of despair with its fruit; and there are no illusions that it’s pristine & pretty because everyone knows apple trees are gnarled with tight, knobby branches and rough bark; and no one believes that “pretty” is the point anyway, so no one is deterred or discouraged or distracted by a perfect row of tulips.

Tell me a story of love that pours like a summer rainstorm; and no one runs for shelter or says gloomily “When will it stop?” or hunkers under an umbrella or glares when they’re splashed; and the common experience of being absolutely drenched & deluged by love makes everyone a little kinder, a little more playful; and everyone realizes as they skip through puddles that the rainbow isn’t love’s beginning but its fulfillment.

Tell me a story of love that trembles like an earthquake; and no one is safe from its impact and everyone is at risk of losing their hearts’ walls in the rubble; and the foundations of self-interest are no match for the wild strength of love; and the measure of it looks like a jumping needle or a pounding heart or a quiet spirit; and no one ever really gets used to the unexpected ways that it shifts your worldview in the flash of a moment.

If you know that story, would you live it aloud so that others might know it too? I’ve been looking for a little inspiration…

on 1 John 4:12

Love Never Fails

Love-Never-FailsTime and time again, I am blessed to know the good people and the beautiful work of Paraclete Press. Most recently, I am moved by the thoughtfulness of word and art in Paraclete’s new book, Love Never Fails: A Journal to be Inspired by the Power of Love by Hilda St. Clair.

Love Never Fails is a creative book for such a time as this: a touchstone of love to hold fast in a landslide of fear; a stimulus toward generosity amidst an inundation of selfishness; a reminder to be faithful in the ways that change the world: listening, caring, connecting.

With compelling quotations, gentle prompts, and blank space for writing, drawing & coloring, Love Never Fails is a visually-engaging invitation to reflection …

love-never-fails-baldwin… and not just inward reflection, but outward engagement: living with love in the world, working for reconciliation in relationships, stepping across misjudgment to understanding, breaking open a spirit of gratitude.

Or at least, that’s what Love Never Fails does for me when I read it. And, having read it once, I’m planning to engage it more thoroughly a second time by making Love Never Fails my daily journal for Lent.

I encourage you to do the same — whether for Lent or not, if you find yourself discouraged for lack of love in the world or overwhelmed for a place to start, let Love Never Fails bolster your spirit and inspire you to greater love-filled living.

Advent: Love

If your love had a measure, O LORD,
it would be the length of the ocean tides
in time and distance and constancy.

If your love was a song, O LORD,
it would be the symphony of forests with
aspens clapping, foxes barking, streams babbling.

If your love was a story, O LORD,
it would inspire the weary to strength
and humble the strong to tears.

If your love had a pattern, O LORD,
it would be the design of starry constellations
with hidden gems glinting at an impossible distance.

If your love was a storm, O LORD,
it would befuddle, disturb and dis-order,
and in its center would be peace.

on Psalm 89:1-2

Wilderness Heart

Is it easier for a flower to bloom in the desert
or for love to bloom in a fearful heart?


Say that it’s love, O God — love!
Tell us that love is
the easiest flower in the world to grow,
the most natural life to spring up
in the wilderness.

Tell us, please — we’d be so very glad
to believe it, for we have thought
that only the wilderness can flourish & sing,
that our own voices cannot harmonize adequately
with the dizzying symphony of love.

Tell us that love can grow as surely
as a weed in the broken sidewalk,
uninhibited by our obstructions;
that love can be found more swiftly
than an underground spring with a diviner’s rod;
tell us too that love does not get lost
in the wilderness of these vain hearts.

Is it easier for a flower to bloom in the desert
or for love to bloom in a fearful heart?

Say that it’s love, O God. Let it be love!

on Isaiah 35:1&4