Norman Rockwell Mosaic “Golden Rule”
The ultimate expression of our wholeness as individuals and as communal entities is seen and heard and experienced in acts of loving.
I am not just speaking about the romantic notions of being together with which we are all familiar. Romance has most certainly earned its place in any discussion of “love”. It is in fact the seasoning without which the experience of companionship becomes bland - as in dull and unremarkable. Romance is the sugar and the salt and the pepper necessary to “ spice things up” in our intimate relationships. As such it is the engine at work in the joyousness that enhances our procreative efforts. It informs and generates the potency necessary for the execution of the desires of our hearts.
All detractors aside - romance is nice, but it is just one of the agencies through which we express our need to be connected to one another. Let us therefore not limit our understanding of Love to the efforts we engage in the achievement of our most intimate desires. Unfortunately what many deduce when the words “I love you” proceed from the mouth of many, is the desire to selfishly exploit the human need for intimacy. Love is, and must be more than just that.
In its most radical form, Love is an unconditional commitment to what is just. Just… as in even-handed, fair, equitable, morally right, and decent. We will not always like each other. We may not always tickle each other’s fancy. Sometimes we will get on the wrong side of those with whom we share some identifiably common ground. But even then the radical propensity of Love compels us to conduct ourselves in our relationship with one another as we would expect to be treated.
This altruistic nature of Love is summarized in 1Corinthians 13 verses 4-7:
“Love is patient and kind; does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
In a poem titled “Clear Now” I found myself ruminating on the above notions. Allow me, if you will, to quote myself:
“We feel so much
That we cannot touch…
We say so little
With so many words…
And then it happens…
And then it is clear…
All inadequate in expressing
That one thing we try to do
With words and bumbling acts…
And we discover
That to love
Is to allow Love
To have its way with us…
Not us to have our way
With each other…”
Yes, to love… and to be in Love, is to give ourselves and our most basic instincts over to a Higher Principle - some say God. I agree with the writer of 1 John. “No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his/her Love is brought to full expression in us”. - (1 John 4 vs 12). This Love is meaningfully expressed as Humility, Patience, Kindness, Forgiveness, Faithfulness, Benevolence… . These qualities become the agencies that facilitate the meaningful operation of this dynamic among us. The absence of these qualities renders impotent all the Love-related rituals and utterances that effectively replace real service to one another with lip-service.
Our lives take on a whole new dimension, and we come into the experience of a whole new range of possibilities for living when we spend time and effort cultivating these qualities. Our hearts and our minds will expand in ways we never thought possible, and we will become the beneficiaries of a more wholesome world when we begin to live in Love.
This expansion happens when we set out each day to do no harm… When compassion becomes the hallmark of our existence… When doing the work of justice and loving mercy becomes the reason we breathe… When faithfulness facilitates the forgiveness we all need, and that we need to extend to one another… When humility replaces that crass self-aggrandizement that fosters corruption… When we practice a benevolence that neutralizes our self-serving approach to charity…
When we can live like that… When we can love like that… When we can be like that… Then we will realize… then we will bring into being the season of existential wholeness our world so desperately longs for. Then, and only then will we discover that place in our experience where our humanity and our divinity intersect.
Love working its will in us and through us, has the power to heal us. It fills the empty spaces in us that are created by the many hurts and disappointments that will inevitably be a part of our life-journey. It chips away at the ragged edges that result from the many assaults on our fragile egos, and that cause unnecessary friction in the course of our interactions with one another. It replaces the poison we build up from fear-induced fatigue, and it replenishes our being with a novel vitality.
Love has the power to make us better persons. It is the antidote we need so we may address the existential malaise that results from the sting of hatred to which we are constantly subjected in a conflict oriented culture. Many are the prescriptions that are presented as ready fixes to the problems confronting us in our world; but Love remains yet the only viable cure for the brokenness that haunts us, and which sabotages all our efforts to establish truly peaceful and prosperous lives.
If you are exhausted from your search for a more balanced and truly meaningful life, this may be the season to …let Love have its way with you.