Paige and I visited NYC several years ago with some friends, and if you have been there you know, that is a walking city. One cold day a fierce storm swept through-heavy rains with heavy winds. No umbrella stood a chance. I had an umbrella and it was trashed by the wind within seconds. It wasn’t just blown upside down, the little aluminum folding arms were so mangled and bent, there was no turning back. Garbage bins and sidewalks were soon littered with abandoned, twisted and tattered umbrellas. So what did we and the 10s of thousands of pedestrians do throughout the city? We scrambled for shelter. We ran for cover. I could buy another umbrella, but I knew there was no way it bear up under these winds and rain.
This week’s characteristic of genuine love is that “love always protects.” The NRSV says “Love bears all things” but it would probably be better to say, “bears up.” It was a word most commonly used at that time to mean to provide shelter or cover, as with a roof. It could literally mean waterproofing, or a shelter that doesn’t leak and is strong enough to withstand the storm.
This is an image of what God is to us that shows up a lot in scripture, especially the psalms. In the opening verses of Psalm 91, we are told that God is a shelter from the storm and the sun. God is a refuge, a place of safter. And my favorite, God is like a mother bird that protects her chicks in the shadow and warmth of her wings.
But as with every other attribute of love in this list, the love we experience from God is the love we are called to express to others and help them experience as well. We are living in a downpour of difficulties and division. While we don’t have the power to stop the storm, in our own small ways, we can be a shelter for one another. We can bear up and help one another bear up in the midst of the storm.