The first Anglican church minister whose parish I joined would habitually end his sermons with the refrain from a Beatles song: “All you need is love!” This became a bit of a joke between myself and another member of the congregation, as this congenial priest unfailingly delivered thoughtful, witty, and inspiring homilies; why repeatedly choose to top it all off with a sentiment that, while true enough, seems so trite?
As I now review a portion of my commitment to interfaith dialogue and activity between this past Christmas and the present Easter season, the simplicity of “all you need is love” beckons me with its wisdom:
I have participated in weekly McGill Students Interfaith Forum dialogue sessions (with a 3-day retreat in February), attended McGill Muslim Students Association Friday prayers, gathered with members of my diocese to join and create interfaith opportunities in Montreal, including a visit to Badr Islamic Center as well as a richly informative meeting with Tom Deerhouse, an Ojibwe-Mohawk from the nearby Kahnawake reserve, whose spirituality is informed by both Catholicism and traditional indigenous teachings. I have also been following a 5-month contemplative prayer in everyday life retreat at Montreal’s Ignatian Spirituality Centre led by Carl Krull, a Jesuit priest who, having recently returned from 50 years in India, seamlessly weaves Hindu and Buddhist wisdom into his Christ-centred teachings on contemplation.
Throughout this challenging load of volunteerism, contemplative sitting combined with reflection on discipleship has allowed me to clarify the greatest underpinning of these and all worthwhile efforts: love–love that it is present, shared with, and yearned for by all people everywhere, no matter the life circumstance or outlook. And if this message gets lost the first (or second, or third…) time around, the jolly pop refrain from the Beatles can indeed handily sum it all up.
As I renew my baptismal vows at tonight’s Easter vigil, I will reflect on the gift of love that has been quietly present and waiting for us throughout our lives, and I will align myself with the spirit that infused the lives of Christ’s first disciples, who came to know love and decided to accept its cross so that others could also partake. Happy Easter…indeed, love is all you need.