03/01/2009 05:45 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

As I Have Loved You

If your life is like mine, your family, friends and coworkers are in various states of fear about the economy. One of the ways to face down the fear is to show up in a big way. I've listened deeply to several people talk themselves out of the tree in the past couple of weeks.

Humans are social creatures, but in the busy-ness of quotidian life, we forget to meet those needs for ourselves and others. I was recently able to do this for myself (connect) in a lovely way, and I offer it to you as a way to stay connected, and to face down the ambient fear.

By nature, I am a solitary. I work alone, I relax alone, I write alone, and I like it. However, a teacher of mine recommended that I create a ceremony for a particular healing I was seeking. The healing was the Restoration of Joy, and I chose Friday, the 13th, as a particularly appropriate date.

Then, solitary or not, I reached out to eleven people I know via an invitation to participate. I asked them each to give five minutes over that weekend to thinking about the restoration of joy for me. The reason for eleven was because my sweetie and I made two here in Boston. The complement became thirteen, like the Last Supper (more on that later), and thirteen for/on the 13th made sense to me. I asked each one to RSVP and let me know if they could give me those precious moments of their time. To a person, they said yes.

So on that Friday, I began my ceremony at 5:03 PM. In person, there were two. In consciousness, there were thirteen. People from all over were delighted to have been asked. I had friends in San Francisco, New York City, outside of Albuquerque, a tiny hamlet in Vermont, the various Boston -urbs, Santa Fe, Brooklyn, Hollywood.

The ceremony was cool; I did a lot of dancing. I've noticed a delightful upsurge in joy, and I remembered something I'd realized many years ago in seminary about the Last Supper. At that notorious meal, the Great Rabbi is noted as recommending to those in attendance, "Love one another as I have loved you."

Anyone raised in the Judeo-Christian tradition has heard these words as an admonishment to love everyone the way Jesus loved, but I invite you think about something that's oft overlooked in that scene.

How many people is Jesus talking to?

If you include himself, thirteen. He's recommending that we learn to love and show up for twelve people other than ourselves. Just twelve. If you'll do a quick finger accounting, you'll come up to twelve people pretty fast. Two parents, any siblings, yourself. Spouse, best friend(s). Co-workers. It adds up to twelve fast.

Jesus is saying to learn to love twelve people really deeply. That's all.

Okay, back to the fear. Are there thirteen people, including yourself, in varying degrees of fear that could use you to show up in their lives and remind them of who they are? Twelve emails, twelve phone calls, twelve pats on the back, twelve hugs.

The restoration of joy is at hand.

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