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Above All, Love

 

The other day I was talking with a friend and jokingly he said, “Well you know, sometimes love lives in the hallway cupboard, in the dark.” We both chuckled for a moment, as we thought about the people who are hard to love and the times you just can’t summon the requisite “love” needed for the moment. Even though your brain says, “You know better…” or “You should really try…” Or some other nonsense veiled as shoulda, coulda, woulda. Yet it got me thinking, “Where does love live?” I know some of the things we tend to think, some of the usual responses – pointing to our hearts, or gesturing to the world all around us. I think it’s something more specific, or that we “find” it in different ways.

One of the last things my beloved said to me before he died was his request, “Promise me you’ll find me.” I used to think it meant that when I have died I will be with him again, which I believe is part of that request, but why do I need to wait til then? What did Frank think I would find? Over time I have come to believe what he really meant was to find him here in my daily life. People, places, moments and experiences that have his “fingerprints” all over them. 

One of the most profound expressions of him, more than anyone else I have ever known, was his ability to love what is – be with all that is, in any given moment. He embraced life to know love above all else, whether in his deepest sorrow, on the brink of death, or in his greatest delight and times of deep serenity. Love did not live in a cupboard in the dark with this man, and I’m not talking about the feeling of love. I’m talking about the lived experience of being in someone’s presence and you leave knowing you are forever changed kind of love.

Those 15 years with Frank and his illness sometimes felt like a slow march to death, and other days gratefulness was the menu for the day. I learned to make plans, and then get comfortable with last minute changes. I learned to laugh whenever I can, and not leave things unsaid. I learned to do the things I’ve always wanted to do (still working on these), and I learned to cancel those “bucket list” ideas. I learned to “pack lightly” because I have no way of knowing where life may take me that day, but mostly it’s how I can find Frank on any day,

Whatever life brings my way, I experience an ever-increasing desire and yearning to love in greater ways. I have learned that with every betrayal, every suffering and humiliation in the name of love, new openings and channels were being etched in my heart; new passageways being carved so that I might experience an ever-deepening love that has no words. New cracks are created so that the mystery of life and love could enter and exit moment by moment.

One time I sat with a woman who, for decades, had been learning many different modalities to “fix” her brokenness. Like so many, she carried a belief that we need to transcend the human condition, that this physical world isn’t “real,” or that heaven on earth needs to be something different than the life that is right in front of us.

As I watched her open to finding those unlived and unloved portions of herself, and for the first time see saw that the torn edges were the most beautiful, loving, unique and simply exquisite pieces of her being. Not something to fix, but something to embrace, to love, above all. Her deepest sorrows and greatest delights had come to life in front of me. In the blink of an eye, through tears of anguish and gratitude – I found Frank. I had promised him I would find him, and I did.

That’s how it happens. The things about those we love who have passed on, are lived out through others. I can promise I will find him, because I know above all, love. He showed me that. And there love – above all else – sat in front of me, with a tissue in one hand, mascara running down her cheeks, breathing peacefully, showing me love does not live in the hallways cupboard in the dark.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said it best, “Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves.”

PRACTICE:

  1. Take a few minutes of quiet in the morning. Think about someone you love who is no longer with you.
  2. What is the one thing that set them apart from others you know? Their capacity to demonstrate peace, compassion, playfulness, forgiveness, strength, listening, safety, grace, courage, gentleness, gratitude, etc.? Only you know.
  3. Ask your heart, not your head, to discern what that one thing might me.
  4. Listen in the quiet. Once you have a word or quality, see it in your mind, and then imagine yourself placing it in your heart.
  5. Once you have done that, ask yourself “What am I willing to not carry today? How can I pack lightly?”
  6. As you move through your day, notice where your loved one’s fingerprints show up, where that peace, grace, strength, or whatever that one thing that set them apart from others, shows up. Remember the idea of “promise me you’ll find me.” It could be in a challenging moment in a crowd, could be with one other person on a phone call. Simply notice.
  7. Then be still and give thanks for finding them in present moment, just as you are, just as they are.

Today I know that love isn’t out there somewhere in the traditional sense, but rather it is in and all around me. On an innate level I know that within each of us is that desire to be love, to express the Infinite Power of love that flows through us, through those channels and cracks we all possess. In my most clear and authentic moments I know that love is not a commodity, a thing to be bartered, borrowed, given or taken away, but rather it is that process that moves through us in our attitudes, our words and our actions.

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