Listen to Love
Dear Kaleid Ladies,
We have talked before about the Shema, the God’s words to Israel in Deuteronomy 6, echoed in Jesus’ summation of the Law in the Gospels. The Shema says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is One. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
This scripture is the centerpiece of Jewish morning and evening prayer. It is an affirmation of both monotheism and of the integration of the entire human person in the worship of YHWH, the God who is and who will be.
Today, we allow the Shema to lead us to consider what our hearing has to do with our loving. We allow it to point us toward seeing our city, so that we can love Atlanta with more courage, compassion, and clarity.
What is the first word of the Shema?
The root of this word “hear” or “shema” in Hebrew is rich. According to Strong’s Dictionary, it includes: to hear intelligently… attentively… call (gather) together… discern… listen… (be)obedient… perceive… regard… report… understand… tell… witness.
God’s first command, before we love, is that we hear.
God invites us to be attentive and discerning, perceptive and thoughtful, understanding and obedient as we love our God. This word “shema” teaches us that any expression of our love, any obedient act, is meant to be rooted in an attentive and discerning posture.
It is easy to encounter a problem of broken love, whether it is in our homes or our neighborhoods or our cities and think that our first job is to act as fixers—to make things better.
“What can I do?” is often our first impulse. While helping, serving, or doing is often the end result of love, it is not the first act of love. The first act of cultivating love is to “shema,” to become attentively perceptive and to thoughtfully regard the other. To inform ourselves about their story so that we are an authentic witness to them. To take time to discern what obedient, loving action looks like.
The Shema contains a lifetime of practice within it. Hear as we love Our Jewish friends’ wisdom in keeping it at the center of their worship can help us to remember that our first act of love and devotion to God and others is to “Hear.”
Who, in addition to God, can you “Hear” today? Whose life is inviting you to a depth of understanding that you might be tempted to brush past in service of outcomes?
This fall, as you know, we are “Seeing Our City.” Specifically, we’ve focused on the very pertinent topic of race. Seeing Our City regarding race is a work of becoming a good hear-er, especially for white women. It is a work of attentive perception and discerning regard so that we can love well where we live.
Did you notice the communal aspect of hearing in the definition of “shema?” Part of hearing is a gathering together in order to understand more deeply. We love the community of Kaleid and the way that, within it, we can become better listeners, more perceptive understanders, and more obedient witnessers to and participants in the love of God that is afoot in our city.
To close today, we want to share upcoming opportunities we call “pop ups” to See the City—to Hear what it is that God is saying here so that we can love with our heart, soul, and strength in our place. Sign up to meet up with other Kaleid ladies at the event!
Pop Up #1: Be the Bridge discussion with local leaders about race and racial justice at Peachtree Road UMC on October 15th from 2-5 pm. This will be a time of intentional conversation with local leaders to discuss racial awareness, racism and healing. Cost: Free!
Pop Up #2: Attend a virtual Equitable Dinner on October 16th, where you will hear “Stories from the Soil,” a conversation dinner event remembering the lives of 36 documented victims of racial terror in Fulton County between 1877 – 1950. Register here.
Pop Up #3: Bryan Stevenson (author of Just Mercy) lecture at Trinity Presbyterian on November 10th at 7 pm. The lecture is titled “American Injustice: Mercy, Humanity and Making a Difference.” Cost: Free!
Pop Up #4: The Black Nativity performance at the Ferst Center at Georgia Tech on December 4th at 3 pm. Black Nativity is an African-American telling of the Nativity story, based on the song play written by acclaimed African-American poet and playwright, Langston Hughes. Cost: See Georgia Tech site for ticket prices.
Pop Up #5: A History Walk at Mason Mill Park with Ranger Jonah (an old Kaleid friend) on December 10thfrom 10 am – 1 pm. Learn about the history of Dekalb County, both its Native American history and the history of its early white settlers. Cost: Free!
We love being with you as we learn how to hear well so that we can love well.
The Kaleid Team