A powerful tool to bridge differences

November 1, 2022 - 12:00am -- Living City

By Susanne Janssen

What makes a 5-year-old give up his plan of jumping on the bed and instead put the mattress on the floor so that his 18-month-old cousin can have fun and won’t get hurt? And his cousin to ask her mom to remove the pepperoni from her pizza, since Ronen cannot have them so that he doesn’t feel alone?

The secret behind is the Art of Loving that both children and their parents try to put into practice in their family life.

“I’m one of five siblings, and we were all taught The Art of Loving as children. Now, between us, there’s a new generation of eight little grandkids who are also being taught these ways of loving,” shares Lara Match. Married to Ezra, and blessed with 5-year-old Ronen, the family sees the benefits of this practice. It means a love of neighbor that is universal, proactive, unconditional, empathetic, inclusive and reciprocal.

It starts with daily interactions that every family faces: “As a couple, living the Art of the Loving informs our interactions. Sometimes, I am the first to love by asking my husband, Ezra, about his workday and letting him talk it through before launching into my concerns or reviewing plans (we take turns doing this!). Other times, he is the first to love by offering to take our five-year-old on a bike ride so I can have some quiet time,” says Lara.

For the Match family, it offers a way to deal with emotions, tensions or conflicts that arise from their differences in character and upbringing. When it is bedtime for little Ronen, it can get challenging since everyone is tired. “Whenever we break unity in the family with a frustrated shout or outburst, we always make sure to apologize, forgive each other and start again right away. In that way, small frictions don’t grow into bigger clashes. The Art of Loving is a powerful set of skills to bridge surface differences within families and much deeper wounds within society,” is the couple’s experience.

Seeing how beneficial this lifestyle is for her family, and how many friends are interested in learning more, Lara started a journey to a much bigger project: “I started writing a book about Living the Art of Loving the same summer George Floyd was killed. Our world was so polarized in that moment of the pandemic with palpable unrest in so many forms. Social media was full of violent language and despair, alternating with platitudes of vague peace and tolerance, but with so few real tools to actually begin to address these divides.”

And while she realized that there were materials available, they mostly used a language with religious words, which would turn some people off or which were not understood in the right way. The Matches, who are Jewish, want to offer it to a broader audience.

“I wanted to express the concepts n a way that people could get it right away. And then I thought, ‘I am an artist, I should start drawing,” Lara says. The book contains more than 50 drawings and brief explanations, like a ‘translation’ of Chiara Lubich’s concept for today.

“I’m really excited about this book because it’s geared to be accessible to everyone, plus, the pictures make it really easy to talk about the art of loving with kids and teens too!”

Living the Art of Loving by Lara Match is available at newcitypress.com

More about the book at livingtheartofloving.com