Author and civil rights activist James Baldwin (1924-1987) once said, “Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”

This Lent we have been reflecting on the nature of Love as expressed in 1 Corinthians 13, how Love relates to the joys and sufferings of our lives.

Toward the end of his life, Baldwin gave a television interview.  He was asked to reflect on the subject of his classic, groundbreaking novel, Giovanni’s Room.  Baldwin’s answer is a meditation on Love, and in particular, how Love can serve a kind of educational purpose in our lives.  Here’s what Baldwin said, presented by Salt Project as a poem, below.

To see and hear Baldwin deliver these words, watch the interview excerpt here.

What’s the novel, Giovanni’s Room, about?  Baldwin’s answer:

It’s about what happens to you

if you can’t love anybody.

It doesn’t make any difference

whether you can’t love a woman,

or can’t love a man —

if you can’t love anybody,

you’re dangerous.

Because you’ve no way

of learning humility.

No way of learning

that other people suffer.

No way of learning

how to use your suffering,

and theirs, to get from one place

to another.

In short, you fail the human

responsibility, which is

to love each other.


Today, on Maundy Thursday, we invite you to worship with Broad Street in person or via YouTube at 7:30 p.m.  See Love incarnate at the table, in the Garden, before Pilate and sentenced to crucifixion.  Reflect on Jesus’ words from John 13:34, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”  What does it mean to love one another?


-Blog by Rev. Ann Palmerton

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