Musings Archive: The Power of Love
It’s no accident that the most potent force in our lives is also a four letter word. Shocking yet simple, as most four letter words are, LOVE is so powerful it can literally change the face of the planet.
The problem, of course, is that love is so powerful, few of us are skilled enough or brave enough to use its dazzling force full strength. Its impact would change our lives forever, causing us to act in ways we have only imagined before. If a miracle occurred and all of humanity suddenly began to allow the intelligence of love to guide our lives from this moment on, soldiers and terrorists everywhere would lay down their weapons and stop the killing. Those who are well fed and comfortable would rush to feed the hungry and invite the homeless in. We would lose our interest in malls, TV and the pursuit of entertainment and turn our attentions to Mother Earth and the people around us instead.
Although the Source of love is unlimited and can never run out (love conveniently generates more love when it is shared), we usually only apply love in small doses to special people and situations in our lives. This is because it requires great investments of time, commitment and courage to cultivate the richness of love in one’s life. My good friend often asks, “Why is it easier to be mean and selfish than loving and kind?” Because walking the path of love is not easy! The fountain of love springs from the heart, which is also the storehouse of the many wounds, traumas and nightmares collected through a lifetime. Though we may be parched and near death for a drink from that fountain, our fear of entering into the heart space too deeply or too often prevents us from quenching our thirst for love. Rather than open the doors of the heart to let our love flow, we keep our hearts closed for protection against the psychic and emotional pain buried there. Unfortunately, that also prevents us from receiving the gifts of love that others have to offer us. The only way to heal our pain is through sharing the love in our hearts, first with ourselves and then out in the world.
Most people think of romantic couple-love as “true love.” While a sacred marriage between two people may lead to emotional bliss, true love is the power that is always flowing from our hearts to help us choose the highest good for every person or being we encounter or think about. Choosing to love is a decision made fresh at each moment in the day; it is a lifetime challenge. Think of your own day with your children or spouse or dear ones whom you love very much, yet how often you fail to come from a place of love in what you say or do with them. The wounds and unmet needs of your own hungry heart are always clamoring to be fed first.
According to author Robert Elias Najemy in “Purifying Love Like Gold” this issue, “This does not mean that we should reject ourselves because we have seldom really loved purely. As we are not yet enlightened spiritual beings, how could we? It would be like rejecting ourselves because we do not yet have a university diploma when we are still in the first grade or because we are a flower bud which has not yet blossomed. It is only natural that we cannot yet love unconditionally. This is our stage of evolution.”
For thousands of years, humans have opted to conquer, kill and hate each other, yet we are fortunate to have role models — both living and those gone before us — who have shown us that the path of love is a much preferable way to live. The most simple premise is the most important: Love your neighbor as yourself. Treat others the way you’d want to be treated. When we follow these two guidelines, we cannot help but generate love to heal ourselves as well as the world. There is no other spiritual, political or philosophical ideal which is more worthy to guide humanity than the one which is true for all people around the globe. Only love can claim this universal home.
I feel fortunate to have been alive during Mother Teresa’s lifetime to witness the extraordinary power of unconditional love through this devoted woman’s example. Though she was surrounded daily by the suffering, decay and despair of poverty and death, she was often photographed beaming love and light into the faces of dying children and adults. The horrible conditions she endured without complaint she transformed into miraculous service instead. Her life gives evidence that it is possible for the power of love to take root in our modern world.
I have also been blessed to cross paths personally with bright and shining souls riding this lifetime on a one way ticket to love. The first time I met Grandmother Dianne Reid was in 1998. She arrived at my cabin door at 3am to begin many years of work and commitment to the annual Harvest Gathering. Despite a long night’s journey from Quebec, getting lost in the mountains of Western Massachusetts and arriving in the middle of the night at an unfamiliar campground, Dianne’s face beamed with joy and light as we greeted at 3am! Her sunny smile was reassuring, yet intriguing.
Since that time, I have watched this Cree grandmother and ceremonial leader endure the physical hardships of travel to other continents and remote places to work with and learn from elders and medicine people of many indigenous traditions. She shares the fruits of this demanding work through her teachings and ceremonies in one simple phrase: “Peace, love and joy.” According to Dianne, it is said that the elders, the medicine people and the ancestors of many indigenous traditions agree that we are past the time of self-righteousness, pointing fingers and tearing each other down. It is time for us to work with the unity of “rainbow medicine” now, and the response to even the most troubling situations is always peace, love and joy.
Over the years, I have witnessed Dianne be patiently true to this teaching, avoiding judgements or harsh statements, and responding to each individual who comes to her with compassion yet firmness, and respect. Her choices, commitment and leadership inspire many to travel this path along with her and widen it as we go. I am often encouraged to “do the right thing” just by remembering Grandmother Dianne’s sunny smile and her many examples of choosing to respond with love. Global love begins with self love and making many small decisions each day.
The recent Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling upholding the right for gay people to marry and receive the same recognition, respect, rights and privileges as heterosexual couples is a courageous and exciting move forward in creating a culture of more love. While many criticize this decision as one which “goes against the moral fabric of society,” we can look back to less than fifty years ago when it was also against the grain to allow interfaith or interracial marriages. Yet look how far we have advanced in the past few decades because of it! Although we still have plenty far to go, “allowing” interracial and interfaith marriages into our society has helped us begin to release those deeply held prejudices and encourage understanding and acceptance between races instead.
Likewise, it is time for society to end the persecution and oppression of people who can no more change their sexual orientation than someone can change the color of their eyes. Should they be denied the right to enjoy intimate, committed, publicly respected relationships for their entire lives? Entering into the sacred union of marriage should be encouraged between people, not prevented, because of the many benefits such a commitment brings.
Those who define the central purpose of marriage as a vehicle for procreation and establishing a family must, in all fairness, also deny the right of marriage to anyone who is unable or unwilling to reproduce, not just gay people. While the ideal family balance might appear to be one male and one female parent, for many years my daughter’s other live-in parent was her grandmother. We were two women parenting one child and my daughter is just fine, thank you. As the numbers of gay people — or perhaps just their visibility — appears to be on the rise, I would not be at all surprised if this is Mother Nature’s natural and non-violent solution to our overpopulation problems. Someday we will thank these brave and tragic pioneers who have blazed this rainbow path in our society.
Carol Bedrosian is publisher and editor of Spirit of Change.