Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lent Days 25-26: Sincere love

"Love must be sincere." The verse slaps me awake.

How many times have I said, "Love you!" casually, without any attachment to the person supposedly "loved?" How many times have I lied, my conscience hardly stirred by the lack of commitment that loving implies?

Yesterday morning, the caregiver found my uncle kneeling by his bedside, passed from this life to the next. He'd suffered from cancer, but almost had it licked last year, after his daughter and her family took over his treatment.

My cousin had heard about Gerson Therapy, a high nutrient, multi-enema treatment that requires more stamina on the part of the helpers than from the patient. She purchased a costly juicer shopped for bench padding, rug covers for the cold tiles in his bath, and soft bedding to make her dad comfortable. Her son built a bench with hooks for the enemas.

When I saw Kara after a few weeks of taking care of her father, she was already exhausted. Every morning, she got up at 5 or 6am to start the juicer, and get her dad settled. The day never slowed down or stopped. Every weekend, she and several helpers scrubbed, peeled, chopped, and packaged organic greens and other vegetables for four hours, stowing them in the extra fridge for the week ahead. Kara and her husband slow-cooked a huge pot soup several times a week. She even ate the bland lunches with her dad. The strict timetables, her cleanup, and preparations for the next day usually ended near midnight.

Within three months, my uncle went from yellow-skinned, at-death's-door, and frail to rebounding in health. His tumors had shriveled and disappeared, and his skin became pink again. When he moved home, my cousin had given him another year of life.

She modeled love as sincere and unfeigned as I've ever seen. "I'm not doing this to be noticed," she said when I commented on the lack of affirmation she experienced. Her husband helped with all his might, but no one else stepped up or supported her during those grueling months. "I'm doing this because I really, really love my dad. He's always been there for me."

Reading the passage from Romans on the day of my uncle's death, I remembered Kara's unselfish devotion. "Kara, you did everything you could, and did it unto the Lord. You showed us what true love is, and we are amazed and grateful for you!"

May God give us the same love Kara exhibited, when we are called to heroic service for others -- the love of Christ.

Rom. 12:9 "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good."

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