Love: Dorothy Day

​If life is love expressed, as we saw it last week in Gandhi, then we have no better example of it than in the life of Dorothy Day.  Like Gandhi, her soul force was the force of love.

Dorothy Day was a pipeline through whom the love of God flowed, to any people to be sure, but particularly toward those whom the world had ceased to love as it should.  For decades, she lived with and served the needs of people who were on the margins.  She did this as a response to God’s call, a call which arose from her deep existential sense of oneness with everyone.  

This sense came to her profoundly during her first time in jail.  She described her experience this way, “I was no longer myself….I was no longer a young girl, part of a radical movement seeking justice for those oppressed. I was the oppressed. I was that drug addict, screaming and tossing in her cell, beating her head against the wall. I was that shoplifter who for rebellion was sentenced to solitary.” [1]

Dorothy day incarnated love by living the second great commandment, to love her neighbors as herself—that is, recognizing her essential oneness with everyone.  This is what Buddhists mean by interbeing, and what Jesus embedded in Christianity through the second commandment.  It is the cosmic oneness that physicists call quantum entanglement—the essential oneness of all things.

In Dorothy Day we see a love which bears witness to the fact that there is only one Life, and we share it in our particular lives through life together.  This is soul-level solidarity, the radical oneness of love.


[1] Quoted without reference in Matthew Fox’s Daily Meditation for December 6, 2019.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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