Letter from the Editor: Endures All Things

The healing properties of love.

I grew up as a Southern Baptist minister’s son in South Carolina, which meant I had memorized The Lord’s Prayer and John 3:16 long before I even knew my home address or phone number. I still have a reel-to-reel tape my dad recorded where he implores me gently, but repeatedly, to “say the Lord’s Prayer.” I couldn’t have been more than 5 years old, and on the tape I complain several times in a dreadful Southern drawl, “I don’t waaant to.’’ But I finally give in and recite the prayer rapidly—and perfectly—pausing at the end to deliver a lilting “Aw-men.’'

I read a lot of the Bible as a kid, more often than not because of expectations. Over the years, I have fallen into the ranks of what believers would refer to as “backsliders.’’ Yet I have never forgotten a passage from the New Testament, something that I didn’t learn by heart but that remains the most beautiful words I’ve ever read: the Apostle Paul’s discourse on love, the 13 verses of the 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians.

This is how it begins:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

Since the Pulse nightclub massacre, that word “love’’ has been used a lot. It was demonstrated by the thousands who donated blood within hours of the shooting, in the large numbers who attended vigils, in those who gave millions of dollars to help survivors and loved ones of the dead. Yet as the days, then weeks and months passed, more than once I wondered if “love” was being relegated to a catchword or a hashtag, or just part of a slogan on T-shirts or banners or business marquees.

I needed only to read the stories that writer Michael McLeod tells in this issue to reassure myself that it was always there. Love is real—and flourishing—a year after Pulse. It resides in an artist creating a mural with the help of survivors and victims’ families, in a group of gay Latinos who have formed a group to support one another, in the friend of a Pulse victim who was inspired to help form a nonprofit to work with gay-straight alliances in high schools across the country.

You might not have heard of some of these people until now. But then again, as the apostle wrote, Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.

In early May, Pulse owner Barbara Poma announced at a press conference that she plans to establish a memorial and museum on the nightclub property. On the printed program for that event was this simple statement: “We will not let hate win.’’

Which is another way of saying what will win is love, like that demonstrated by the caring souls profiled this month, and multitudes more who in ways big and small are contributing to the healing. They have learned their compassion by heart.

Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.


Categories: Column