At a recent Passover Seder, someone said that love means embracing complexity. I didn’t think that was true 20 years ago.
I thought (as The Simple Way name suggests) that love was simple. You just love.
When we started The Simple Way, I could see the path clearly. We would love. We would love each other, our neighbors, our enemies. When things were hard, we would love more. When we were hurt or vulnerable, we would love like Jesus loved and trust in the resurrection.
One of our dearest friends from those early years passed away recently. Casey was the perfect example of a good man addicted to heroin. I can’t count the number of times he cleaned the kitchen when I was exhausted from a day of cooking for whoever had come to the door.
Sitting on the steps, we would talk as much of my struggles and relationships as we would his. We drove him to countless rehab facilities and welcomed him back over and over again. We visited him in jail and went with him to identify his wife’s body at the coroner’s office. He held me when I cried, and he stole the Cuisinart my parents had given me for Christmas.
It was complex.
After a couple of years at The Simple Way, I would have told you that life and love were simple but hard. Now, I tend to think they are complex because we are.
I don’t think my young adult self was wrong. I’m thankful for the open trust she had, the community that held her up, and the love she was able to give and receive. But it wasn’t until I embraced the messiness, the unfairness, the ugliness, and the bittersweetness of loving people that I was able to actually do it.
Casey got out. He got clean. He moved away and got a job. Then, he reunited with his daughter and married again. Every morning, he would get on Facebook and greet the day and his friends with joy.
I’m thankful we shared our lives together for a season or two. Grateful he stole things from me and that he helped me. He taught me love does not grow by being subservient to the idea but by engaging with the person. He taught me how to light a match in a windstorm.