Sowing love

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Hatred is a harsh emotion and a destructive reality. It destroys without consideration, boundary, or restraint. It maims the hater and the hated alike; no one escapes unharmed. Anger and vengeance feed it, and it’s passed on from one generation to another, one community to another. Hatred can kill the body and cripple the soul, sending its roots into the deepest parts of life and bearing monstrous fruit.

How am I supposed to sow love where there is hatred? Sometimes it’s all I can do to practice patience and kindness where there is ignorance or disagreement; sowing love in a field of hate is beyond the skill of my hands, the wisdom of my thoughts, and the goodness of my heart. I just can’t do this.

But maybe that’s the whole point. This prayer is a boundary prayer, seeking what is far beyond me. Only God can grow love in a field of hatred. The best I can do is throw the insignificant seeds of love I have and leave the rest up to God. I know the love of God breaks into every human reality, even the reality of hate. My part is to refuse a life of hatred, sow what love is mine to give, and trust to the mystery and power of God’s love.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Eight simple words that can open the gates of heaven.

Lord, Make me an instrument of Thy Peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

This prayer is attributed to Saint Francis. He was born in 1181 or 1182 into a wealthy family in Assisi, Umbria. He grew up in comfort, turned into a rowdy youth, and eventually looked for glory on the battlefield. His life plan altered when he encountered God. In prayer, he heard God tell him to rebuild the church. He devoted himself to a life of prayer, poverty and service. He is the founder of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM), usually called the Franciscans. He died in 1226 after a life of prayer, poverty, and service. His life, work, and words have inspired countless numbers of people.

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I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

2 thoughts on “Sowing love”

  1. The first scripture given to those who wish to submit writings for Forward Day by Day is a true test of the spirit: Ps.139:21–“Do I not hate those who hate you Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?” While I love Psalm 139, how does one deal with “righteous anger”? And if, as I truly believe, God’s other name is Love, how can I hate what God loves–all those awful people?! As Anne Lamott put it: “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in you own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

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