“Everything I know about love I’ve learned from country music,” says Uncle Steve, with a laugh. It’s a well-worn joke, but I think it’s true: so much of what we know (or think we know) about love comes from popular culture.

Pause today and listen to the music. Ask yourself, in the words sung by so many different bands and musical artists, “What is love?”

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If anyone says, I love God, and hates a brother or sister, he is a liar, because the person who doesn’t love a brother or sister who can be seen can’t love God, who can’t be seen. This commandment we have from him: Those who claim to love God ought to love their brother and sister also.

1 John 4:20-21

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Recently I’ve been listening to John Coltrane’s album, “A Love Supreme.” There is perhaps no kind of music that better illustrates what it means to be “led by love” than jazz — I’m amazed by the direction the notes take. It’s not something you could think about or plan. It comes from the heart.

Coltrane recorded “A Love Supreme” in the 1960s. At a time when black and white people in America were exploring what it means to live alongside each other, Coltrane wrote about his music: “I’d like to point out to people the divine in a musical language that transcends words. I want to speak to their souls.”

Today we are still exploring what it means to live alongside each other, and to truly love all our brothers and sisters. We can only do this if we are led by love. This means leading with our hearts instead of our heads; leading with our faith instead of our ideology. If we could bare our souls to each other — now that would be a love supreme.

Heidi Thorsen Oxford

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Merciful God, forgive me for the ways that I have failed to love others as you would have me love them. Open the eyes of my heart today. Teach me how to love in new, unexpected ways. Amen.

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“To love another person is to see the face of God.”

from the “Finale” of Les Misérables (1980)

Heidi Thorsen Oxford

Heidi Thorsen Oxford is a recent graduate of Union Theological Seminary (MDiv, ’17), and is a postulant for ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. She is currently completing a chaplain residency at Yale New Haven Hospital. Heidi lives with her husband, Will Oxford, and their two beautiful cats.

Making Space: Day by Day

Carter Harrell

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