There's no more important subject, or remedy, for what ails us than Love. That's 'Love' with a capital 'L.' Everyday, headlines are peppered with evidence of our biggest problem as a people: fear. Where there is fear, there is a mentality of lack, an impoverishment of mind, body and Spirit breeding disconnection, isolation, mistrust and aggression. But, where there is Love, there is Life. Love is the answer.
But, what is Love? A sentimental, obligatory Valentine's card deployed on February 14th? Or, is it more? Once again, the generous response of HP readers to last week's piece, "When Was the Last Time You Sent a Love Letter," has been a teaching. Your stories left me in awe. I am so grateful. After your descriptions of the healing power of love letters in your lives, as well as the remarkable ways you've shared and assisted other readers, (see the 'threads' from the past few weeks), the words of Pericles came to visit me as I sit near the pond, by the forest, where I live on the island.
"What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others."
Amen, Sisters and Brothers! Your community weaving is magnificent. My neighbor pointed out this morning that customarily, readers react to blog material with their heads, not their hearts. Not so, here. Not only did you quietly, and respectfully, respond to one another, but your way in the world is instructive. You are 'living' love letters. What I thought was a noun turns out to be a verb. Composing on the spot, you created gifts for one another! Not everyone, of course. But, if you did enter the conversation, what compelled you to respond? Why would you take the time? My guess is that you 'get' we are all One, regardless what the Spirit of our Times suggests through war, violence, politics and that 'us vs. them' mentality. As 'faculty,' you remind me that, while our stories and love letters are different, we grapple with the same questions when it gets to the curriculum of love.
The subject is hardly new. Yet, the need to discover possible answers is ongoing in the schoolhouse of living. Regardless whether the Beloved is your partner, child or your lost child, your mother, sister, favorite auntie, teacher, father, brother or fellow reader, one thing is clear. Love is not a spectator sport. Let me repeat that: Love is NOT a spectator sport. Love means getting on the playing field. Love means showing up, even when you don't have the time. Love means expressing it, anyway. Love means taking a chance, reaching out, and not being attached to the outcome. Love has nothing to do with getting credit. Love has everything to do with giving it away, and not in that phony baloney way. Love means catching someone, (including yourself) in the midst of letting their light shine, of being authentic, of stepping up, and saying 'bravo,' well done,' 'go get 'em,Tiger,' and 'today's your day.' Love is not stingy. Love is generous. You demonstrated the fact that Love is the act of acknowledging the highest and truest of the Beloved, and ignoring the small potatoes. Love discerns where to place our focus.
Your actions, your Love Letters to one another, remind me that the opposite of Love is NOT hate. It is indifference. You are anything but indifferent. You take the extra step most leave for others. You initiate. You reflect back that 'all is well,' that everyone could use on 'bad hair days,' and I don't care how evolved you say you are. Love responds, not reacts.
One more thing: You remind me that Love is patient, as you find a means of collaboration. You know intuitively that Love is no longer about 'me.' People like you have come to that place in the road where you know intuitively that too much 'me,' brings with it spiritual barrenness. This 'we-ness' you are expressing so tenderly, is with me, on my walks, along the seashore. Watching children and big people gathering shells along the sand and rocks, I reflect upon the gift of you, at your best. In fact, the more I witness the sea, the more I understand what makes your love work when it works. Stay with me, and see if you can work out the analogy:
"...The Sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience is what the sea teaches ... Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open and choiceless as a beach--waiting for a gift from the sea."
--Anne Morrow Lindbergh
So does love, regardless whether you are expressing it on paper, in your scrapbooks, through you outreach in a myriad of forms. Gifts, from the 'sea of love' require a certain active receptivity. It's not enough to just stand around. You must stand ready, open, proactive, willing to go first. Love is not for those in the audience, any more than is birthing a baby. In both cases, new life is coming to the fore, and no predictability as to what this will require, in the tending department, manana.
None of us can predict. You never know when those letters that come from your mother, the clippings and jungle of words scratched on the envelope will stop coming some day when she falls into the labyrinth of advanced Alzheimer's. You never know when your father's handwriting will be compromised by Rheumatoid Arthritis, and aging, and there will be fewer and fewer handwritten notes. You never know when you will see a loved one's signature for the last time. You never know when that lover, yes, that one that fell off the radar long ago, will be staring at you from across the lobby, where you didn't plan on being an hour earlier. You just never know.
Only last night, my husband and I met a couple whose lives went in different directions 22 years ago. Secretly, each was devastated. Both survivors, they did their best to move forward, eventually married other partners, had kids, made the best of things, stayed on the playing field, and have contributed to the lives of others along the way. They've been good sports. Eventually each marriage ended amicably. One year ago, they found themselves staring across the lobby at one another, and the rest is history. At the end of the evening, Tad and Marcella sent their own form of love letter to us, by way of an invitation to their small family September wedding, on the island, which will take place in the sweetest little white church with steeple you've ever seen.
Why would virtual strangers offer us an opportunity to enter their private circle of trust, when we'd never met 24 hours earlier? (Remember "Meet the Fockers"?) Was it the rarefied air of a July full moon at work, at sunset? Was it the deep pink Hollyhocks that framed the window sill where we sat together, and shared love stories? Was it the fact of numerous syncronicities in our stories? As I said, Love is generous.
Love unites when we suit up, and get in the game. To get there, however, more often than naught, we 'do time,' in the Heartbreak Hotel. And, yet, as the song sung by Stephen Mitchell reminds us: "The heart that breaks is an opening." It's all part of the process. The most loving people I know around the world are those who've embraced the openings, finding love and compassion in what's been fractured. They do not hesitate to get back on the field, either.
Below you will find four vital tools and techniques based upon principles they've used successfully:
1. Ask yourself the vital questions:
a. What makes you hesitate? Be honest. Where are you holding back from what you'd love to blossom in your life?
b. What do you want to create through love? Let go of your reasons why this can't happen!
2. Identify the best immediate direction for your love today.
a. Identify the love you most want to express, by completing this sentence:
Today, I want love to find me expressing it better to_______________________
By (name the action) ________________________________________.
b. Embrace this instinct, trust your hunch.
3. Honor Love's call to action:
Through your creative imagination, conjure up an image of yourself expressing this Love, in this way, until you are filled with absolute joy. What might your life be like five years from now if you stopped resisting your intuition?
4. Review Your Playbook. At the end of the day, look back and notice how you got on the field today. What brought your heart greatest joy? Write this down. It's a strong hint for tomorrow!
Click 'become a fan' to save time. Follow at email@example.com.
As I enter surgery Wednesday, my hope is that you will find loads and loads of 'love letters' everywhere you go. My hope is that you will leave even more behind. Consider joining something of which you are a part, by virtue of the fact that you are alive on the planet today. It was given to me in meditation some months ago as "The Love Project. " Whether we feel ready personally or not, the time has come to embrace a love of life we've never known before, paying it forward in our own, simple ways. For more, see carabarker.net, the upcoming Teleconference, later this year, designed to encourage your own Love Projects to flower in the garden of your heart beautifully.
Let me hear from you, and thank you for paying this forward. During my recovery, I will read your responses, and respond as best I can, over time. Know that my love, and a much Greater Love, is with you now and always.
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more