Living Simply | November 1, 2015

The gift of sustaining love

Interstate 65 cuts through a massive wind farm in Northern Indiana. Driving through it from my Illinois home to the Happy Corner Church of the Brethren in Clayton, Ohio, last week, I got to thinking about a few different kinds of energy. For human beings, energy comes from many places—rest, work, space, closeness—and we all need a little boost from time to time. But a single gust of energy can’t continue without something more lasting to keep it going, some kind of momentum to fill us, breathe through us, and sustain us.

I found myself in the middle of that windmill forest on my way to a memorial service for a friend who passed away suddenly and far too soon. She was the kind of person who found energy from being with people she loved, many of whom were gathered that day to face the “absence of her presence,” as pastor Smith said, together. We ate chicken chili and told stories and laughed between the tears. We talked about how incredible it was that she was the connection between the hundreds of people in the church gym that day, and how much she would have loved to see all of us together. We reflected on the faith that had sustained her through her life, and the love that she was able to freely and generously give because she was so full of it herself.

We often talk about conserving energy through sustainable living. We reduce, reuse, and recycle our way to healthier bodies and a healthier planet—which is important and good, of course. But all that simple living also seems a bit meaningless in the face of simply dying. What good are sustainable sources of energy if we don’t share sustenance with others?

At Tracy’s memorial service I realized that the secret of truly sustainable living is not nearly as simple as I’d like to think. It has far less to do with composting and canning and far more to do with the pain and struggle and downright complicated nature of love. Love might be simple in concept, but it is so often difficult in practice—and yet it is the very thing that sustains us: love for others, love of self, and most of all, the love of God. My friend knew this in her life and in her dying, and she perpetually shared it, never running out of love to give.

We have been offered the unconditional, grace-filled love of Jesus—a love that sustains us through joy and sorrow, life and loss, questions and waiting, happiness and heartache.

And we have been promised that where two or three are gathered in the name of Christ, he is with us, clearly felt, profoundly present, keeping his promises. What a relief it is to remember that even though life may be like the wind, love is available to give and receive as generously as Tracy did, because it is the most sustaining and sustainable way to truly live.

Amanda J. Garcia is a freelance writer living in Elgin, Ill. Visit her online at