by Emma Wrigley
At this moment in my life, I am lucky enough to get to be in college at a school where the motto is “Trust the Process” (sound familiar?) and I get to design my own curriculum and study non-mainstream things like “Embodied Transformation”. This past semester, I spent a portion of my studies on digging deeply into the concept of “love.” A project arose from my studies – a paraphrasing and weaving together of various texts on love, that I’ve decided to share with all of you. It’s a weaving–from the Christian Bible to Kahlil Gibrain to Shalom’s very own Principles and Skills, I pulled together as many profound ideas about love as I could find, and then re-wrote it all into a single piece of writing, with some of my own thoughts thrown in. The project was both fun and challenging, and it broadened my understanding of love and showed me once again just how important love truly is. We say it often at Shalom, but from time to time I catch a glimpse of how true it is and it takes my breath away: really, more than anything else in this world, we want to love and be loved.
Love is gravity. It is the force which holds everything together; the reason we are here. Ever present, ever felt, but never fully seen or understood within the scope of a human life, love is the entire point of it all. I could be the most amazing speaker in the world, using language as the medium for my artistic expression and moving my listeners to tears, but if I didn’t infuse my words with love, they would be empty and meaningless; discordant. I could have immense spiritual wisdom, grasping the deep mysteries and manifesting wonders, but if I didn’t see the universe through the eyes of love, I would be nothing. I could even sacrifice myself, my own body and spirit and become a martyr for a cause, but if I didn’t do it for love, it wouldn’t be worth anything at all. No matter what I do or become in this life, if I don’t learn how to truly love and be loved, I’ve missed the point.
The love I’m talking about is a gift- goodwill in action, given freely and received freely. There’s no way to earn it and no way to lose it. I give love to you when I see you for who you are, unique and new in each moment, when I really listen to both your words and what’s underneath them with my full focused attention, when I respect you enough to honor what you think and how you feel rather than judge you for it, and when I support and care for you while holding firm to my own values, truth, and life-path. I allow myself to receive love from you when I risk vulnerability by showing up authentically, speaking my truth, sharing my thoughts and feelings, and asking for what I need without attachment to the response. Love exists as a response to need, but it cannot be compelled.
The love I’m talking about waits patiently. It doesn’t rush ahead, but allows each moment to be what it is. This love wants the best for all things, and never acts with the intention of cruelty. This love isn’t selfish, prideful, or prone to jealousy; it is sufficient unto itself. It cringes at the pain of this world, but delights in all that is authentic and true. This love bears all things – no burden is too heavy. It believes all things and is the belief of all things, for the deepest truth is love. It hopes all things, eternally optimistic. And it endures all things: it can never be erased.
The love I’m talking about is not bound by time. In fact, love is the only thing that always exists. It is the eternal, it is God(dess)/Spirit/the Higher Power. There is a great truth behind all the truths of the world; the faces of the gods are masks that may be changed at will—The greatest truth is love. Every tree, every star, and every sentient being is an expression of love and has something to teach us about the deepest mysteries. But we cannot yet fully comprehend the mystery that is love.
This Love is the true Love that loves everything created. Love is in the world and the world is created by Love, still the world does not know Love. We are human, and we act in mortal, messy ways as we go about the business of trying to grasp just what this love is, what it means, and how to find it within ourselves and source our lives from it. We blunder, children who cannot yet understand what it is to be an adult, and so act in childish ways. The love one feels as a child is altogether different. It may be fierce and overwhelming, but it lacks the acute awareness that comes with adulthood; the knowledge of choice and responsibility. But, just as we grow from child to adult and cease to act as children, so as we journey in consciousness and love, we will begin to understand what love truly is. And as we grow, we come know this love fully even as we are fully known by this love in an experience of Divine Union when we understand the oneness of the all.
All things are made by Love and without Love nothing is made. In Love is life and Love as life is the Light of humankind. The universe consists of love making love to love, for love has no other desire than to fulfill itself. Reflecting this, there is a magic to lovemaking that never fades, an alchemy of the flesh that never fails to evoke wonder, when the two become the one, when the two and the one become the three united: the trinity, with love as the uniting force.
And so when love calls you, follow, even though the road may be rocky. When love sweeps you up and wraps its arms around your heart, let it, even though it may squeeze so tightly that you shatter. When love sings to you, believe in the song and let it flow back from you in your own voice. Love will be your glory and your pain. It will support your growth even as it prunes away that which no longer serves you. It will teach you to fly and it will shake your foundations, performing alchemy on you and transforming you into something new, so that you may know and be known in fullness, as a person, part of a whole, with a share in its purpose.