Love. That is Life. Love.

Why Is She Crying?

Driving out of the Chinese village in a crowded taxi, an uninvited news reporter turned sideways to ask me why my daughter was crying. I told her that my daughter cried when we came to China because it was so far away from the people and places she loved. Now she cried as we drove past noodle stands, water buffalo and people. She cried because she knew that love is meant to last. She cried because love suffers when it is interrupted.

Why? How? What?

That is how I tell the story to myself now. I am sure I was just abrupt with the lady asking the question at the time. Love is what matters but it is really hard to keep that in mind. It is a challenge we all face.

Working backward: What is the Hope?

Life filled with unlimited love is my hope. Love is what matters in life. If love is not what matters, then ultimately nothing matters to me. I know that love is what has always mattered, love is what always will matter, and love is what matters right now. I just know it. But how do I make sense out of it all?

Signs and Certitude

Reading signs can be tricky. When Karla and I were in Spain we explored the historical city of Toledo together, including a romantic ride in a carriage drawn by a horse named Rosa. Our guide was such a charming old gentleman, that even as he told me of his young heroics resisting Franco’s fascists, I pictured him back in the day with wrinkled eyes and a snaggled grin, just with a sepia hue to it all.

Train Signs & Life Signs

Life is littered with signs. Long before my struggle with signs in Spain, as a kid I worked to read signs while on drives. I also read special events and experiences in life as signs. An unexpected silver-dollar pancake breakfast pointed to goodness, blessing and delight. My lie about why I would not be at my friend’s 8th birthday pointed to dark and confusing urges for selfishness. A funeral for my grandfather, who turned out wasn’t really my grandfather, pointed to limited time and opportunity to figure out all of the signs. The challenge is to begin to observe patterns even while the signs keep coming. The number of signs is beyond counting. Where all of those signs might point is a much smaller set. Where all of those signs are pointing is what matters.


When I look at life and the inescapably intrusive signs I see a cardinal set of directions. The signs point me to believe that there is good, and there is bad, there is meaning and there is hope. I stop to ponder those signs, and what they point to, so that I can use them as a compass to give me direction. Even if I do know the direction I should go, I realize that I do not know everything about good, bad, meaning or hope. What I do know is that there is a way to navigate purposefully.

Jesus Points in the Direction I Sensed: Love is the Point

Jesus said love is what life is for. Specifically he said that comprehensive love of the covenant making God is the main responsibility of humanity. The second responsibility is related. Humanity ought to love humanity. Jesus expresses both of these concepts in reference to commands delivered through the ancient patriarch, Moses.

Love is Uniquely Essential

What Jesus says about these two commands passed through me for years like radio, or Wi-Fi, passively bouncing around unused. Jesus actually says that the command to love God and humanity created in the image of God was everything God commanded us. This love command was the essential point. Every other command from God derived its meaning from the set of love commands. How could I miss that?

A Compass for Life

The quest to read the signs of life, both the finding and the losing, quickly overwhelms me. I store notebooks filled with partial decoding of signs. The Internet maintains long neglected blogs started with other efforts. But there is a better way than trying to catalogue all of the signs in an open taxonomy of crisscrossed lines. By reducing specific signs to a handful of basic concepts life becomes much more easily navigated.

More Than A Compass

The “compass” I developed is a tool in the form of a few symbols arranged in five columns on one page. These symbols are reminders of how all of the little signs fit into a few major signs, and that those major signs actually form a story. That story explains the good, bad, meaningful and hopeful in a way that informs my purposeful direction in life as a part of that story.



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