My Handy Walking Stick
After my first operation 14 months ago, I acquired something unusual. We stopped at our local chemist on our way back from hospital. My husband went inside. Ten minutes later he came out carrying something I’d never needed before. Its shiny handle was a chestnut brown; the length of our new acquisition was a polished gold. Its bottom was fitted snugly with a chocolate brown rubber stopper to ensure it wouldn’t slip when being used. It was well crafted; shiny; new. A handy walking stick.
I leant on that walking stick as I took my first steps from our car and inside our home. I used it often during those early days. It helped me feel secure as I limped along in a strange blue boot the hospital staff had fitted on my foot. When my next operation came around this year, we didn’t need to buy a new walking stick because of course we already had one. I found it very useful once more as I wobbled my way from the car to my bedroom. Even now, my walking stick continues to be handy. Every morning, as I part my bedroom curtains to welcome the world in, my walking stick obliges. I use it to deftly flick the curtain and move it as far back as I can. Yes, it is a handy walking stick.
The other day, the serviette I usually fasten on my blouse when I have meals in bed had fallen under my bed. What did I do? Bending and reaching for things with my operated foot isn’t easy to do. My faithful acquisition came to my rescue. I fished the serviette out by yanking it with my walking stick. Yes, it is a handy walking stick.
When our air conditioning didn’t work too well on hot humid summer days, I used it to open the shutters of the air conditioning. When it got too cold I used it again to close the shutters. Yes, it is a handy walking stick.
I’ve been studying an excellent book recently on love, one written by Dr Ajith Fernando. It’s called ‘Reclaiming love – Radical relationships in a complex world". Among many other gems in the book, I discovered a very thought provoking statement:
‘Love is an end in itself.’
It made me reflect deeply. I seem to use that walking stick at present for every purpose than what it was intended for. Sad to say there are times I might use love in the same way - to perform a task it was not meant for – as a means to an end; not as an end in itself. For instance, I might show love so I’d gain another’s approval; or that I’d receive her love. I might show love because it is what’s expected of me, not because I’m a loving person. Love might sometimes be a carrot I selfishly dangle in order to get what I want.
The more I thought about the statement, the more depth I discovered. What a blessed realisation. Love is an end in itself. Just as I often use my walking stick to my advantage but not for the purpose it was made for – you and I might sometimes be tempted to use love to our advantage.
But is that love? Is that love?
Showing love to others is not so I can earn merit for being a good person.
It is not so that the person I show love towards someone who will love me back.
It is not so I can earn brownie points from God.
It’s not so I can obtain what I want.
Love is an end in itself.
I’d been reflecting about a friend I cared about; worrying about her future. I wanted to know she would be OK. When I read this sentence God spoke deep into my heart. “You have loved her Anusha. And that is enough. The rest is up to me.” What balm it was to me that day. Love is always enough. What a wonderful perspective. So…. let me not use love as I used my walking stick; to perform a different task than what it’s been created for. Let me use it to express the same grace and love that God has showered upon me.
“Dear Friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:11, 12
‘We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19