LOVE. THAT'S WHAT moves mountains. That’s what the inimitable Dr. Maya Angelou shared with Oprah Winfrey in an interview a year before Angelou’s passing on May 28, 2014, at the age of 86.
In the days following her death, tributes blanketed the television and internet. Perhaps the greatest came on Sunday evening, June 1, as Oprah Winfrey aired a series of exclusive interviews with Dr. Angelou. Thus, the prophet spoke from the grave and this is what she said: “Love moves mountains.”
Jesus said faith moves mountains—faith the size of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20). Did Dr. Maya Angelou dare to contradict Jesus? The poet/prophet says love. Jesus said faith. Which is it? Perhaps both.
People of faith know—they have witnessed it. Faith does move mountains. But they also know this: Faith’s power can lay dormant until it’s set ablaze by love. Perhaps only love has the power to fortify faith enough to make the earth quake.
Anger can shake earth, but it cannot move it. Rage can break earth, but it cannot move it. What if faith the size of a mustard seed requires the force of love to move the mountain? If that is the case, we are left with one haunting question: Why have we seen so few mountains move in our lifetime?
Perhaps the miracle has eluded us not because we lack faith, but rather because we live in a generation that can get by most of the time without really loving—I mean really loving—loving sacrificially—loving with vulnerability—loving with the force of a Mack truck. I mean the make-you-join-a-freedom-ride-even-though-you-may-be-lynched kind of love. I mean the kind of love that looks on the humanity of “the other” and is melted from the inside—the kind of love that lays down one’s life, one’s dreams, one’s health, and one’s well-being for the good of “the other.”
Have we gotten by without that kind of love? Have we exchanged that kind of love for Facebook “Like”? “Like” is about what brings pleasure. Love can hurt. Love calls for sacrifice. Love requires courage.
The one who loves—I mean truly loves—in this world will always ultimately experience great loss. For we are all, ultimately, traveling alone. We come into this world alone and we take our bow and exit alone. But here is the crux of the crux: It is how we live in the middle that determines the miracles we are privileged to see.
Did we love? Did love compel us to walk forward by faith?
I consider one mountain range surrounding us right now: comprehensive immigration reform. Is this your mountain? Is it the mountain your neighbor stares down every day? Or is it the mountain that stands between you and the neighbor you’ll never know?
Now consider this: Do you love your neighbor? I mean really love them.
Recently, I have witnessed this kind of love. American citizens have exercised sacrificial love for their undocumented immigrant neighbors: They have fasted and prayed and marched and organized. They have loved.
Now we stand at that moment when mountains need to move. Do you have faith the size of a mustard seed? Good. That’s all we need.
Lisa Sharon Harper is senior director of mobilizing at Sojourners.
Image: hand-drawn mountains, Elinalee / Shutterstock