Lately I have been thinking quite a bit about love and its many forms. Given all that is happening in our world today, it is difficult for me NOT to think about the nature of human love and our capacity for joy and forgiveness in the face of such intense suffering. Here at Amigos I often find myself feeling as if I live in the protected cocoon of a loving and supportive community, far from the destruction and hatred that other parts of the world are currently experiencing. The reality of this communal love is so palpable at Amigos, despite the trauma that our kids have suffered. Their ability to continue to love, to experience joy, and to share this joyous love with others is truly transformative.
When I think of the type of love that I experience every day at Amigos, I think of Agape love, the type of love Saint Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians: 13 when he says, “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Agape love refers to the highest, deepest form of love that exists; love that chooses, love that sacrifices. It encompasses filial, maternal, and romantic love. Agape is the love of God for us and our love for God expressed through our love of others. Agape is what we share as brothers and sisters in Christ.
About a month ago we celebrated a wedding here, the culminating expression of romantic love in our faith. Any celebration at Amigos de Jesus includes dancing; in fact, it is not considered a celebration or “fiesta” unless there is dancing; a fiesta without dancing has its own name, a “convivencia.” In any case, everyone was understandably excited to celebrate the union of Kenji and Madrina Mayra, especially the children. One of our girls, Nina*, spent most of the reception following around one of our older boys, clearly wanting to dance with him. Nina is sweet and humorous, and a bit socially awkward due to her cognitive and developmental issues. Adriano* is aware of Nina’s adoration, and being the well-balanced, kind, and compassionate young man he is, he gallantly asked her to dance.
Adriano is a typical young man; he has crushes on girls, struggles with his homework, likes to sing American rap music, occasionally gets crazy with his friends. But he also is mature, wise, and open-hearted enough to see Nina for who she is, a human being and a child of God, worthy of love and respect. Because of this, and not out of pity, he was able to see a way to bring joy to her and participate in that joy himself. Those of us who witnessed Agustin’s dance with Nina consider ourselves blessed to have been, as Father Dennis says, “humbly transformed by the presence of Jesus Christ in the children.”
*Names changed to protect privacy
- Genevieve Volpe, Project and Operations Coordinator