I have ridden that train. I have driven on that interstate. As I looked at the photos of twisted train cars and crushed vehicles I wondered about the nice guy who was working the snack counter on our last train journey and the funny lady who checked our tickets. I remembered sitting in traffic on that stretch of roadway, grooving to music with my honey as we headed home to Tacoma from Thanksgiving in Newberg one year. It was easy to extend my heart to those folks who were in places familiar to me when the horrific accident happened this week.
The same was true 5 years ago when the stunningly heartbreaking shooting happened at Sandy Hook elementary school. I was volunteering in my then 2nd grade daughter’s classroom as the news broke. Looking at the sweet faces of the kiddos it wasn’t hard to feel the devastating losses and incomprehensible pain of parents and community thousands of miles away.
This is how we begin to love others, we let our hearts break open as we connect with what we can understand. Advent asks us to love beyond what we can know and understand. As Christians we work to grow our hearts beyond that which touches us to that which is outside of our lives. As I look at the news, as I think about Syrian refugees fleeing violence, or wonder what it must be like to sleep on the sidewalks here in Portland my heart aches for those whose lives do not mirror my own. And through that love I am compelled to live love, to share of my resources, to point to loving acts of those who rescue refugees on the stormy seas or those who advocate for low income housing. Love calls us to embody Christ in the world and it’s why in the Southeast Portland Parish we serve and it’s also why we learn so that our love, like God’s knows no bounds.