Something remarkable happened to me this year: I started loving everyone. The hundreds of people I know and the billions I don't.
I'm not sure when I began loving everybody, but I do know when I first realized it. I was writing a bio for my website. I composed a sentence or two about the usual stuff, and then what I really wanted to say popped into my mind: "My heart is full of love for you."
A voice in my head promptly replied: "That's ridiculous. In fact, it's dangerous! You cannot tell strangers on the internet that you love them!"
But the bio felt incomplete without those words, and so I typed: "Her heart is brimming full of love for you."
It struck me how odd this was: I had no idea who would be reading, what those individuals believed, what grievous acts they might have committed, but I was entirely sure I loved them.
That was the beginning of--or maybe a return to--a feeling of loving everyone, of becoming a more open channel for what I call The Great Love.
The Great Love
Love, as we define it in our culture, is personal, selective, based on direct contact or experience with a person or thing. It is conditional, based on particular qualities or actions.
The Great Love all encompassing and unconditional, but not without reason: it stems from a profound knowing that everyone is worthy of love.
The Great Love is beyond what we can conceptualize or hold in this lifetime, but when we experience even little shards of it, whispers of it, we are filled with something so huge and powerful that we are opened, flattened, transformed.
Those little shards show up for most of us in momentary, profound experiences--often in nature, when we experience a piece of great art, when we look into a newborn's eyes.
Sometimes a whisper of The Great Love shows up in unexpected moments--staring out the car window at a red light, cutting tomatoes at the kitchen counter, peddling along on the bike at the gym.
The Great Love comes into my heart often now. When I watch the news, I do so with an underlying feeling of great love and kinship toward every person involved, including the "bad guys" and the dictatorial leaders.
When I look out my windows at the long twisting tail of traffic on the highway, or the checker box windows of the neighboring skyscrapers, I feel a tidal wave of good will. I feel how hard each person is trying to get the love and acceptance and stability that we all want in life. I want them all to be showered with a rain of blessings and struck with lightning hope. Above all, I want them to be good to themselves, to extend to themselves the forgiveness and kindness they deserve. I don't know these people, but I know their hearts.
The Gifts of the Great Love
If you become a more frequent channel for The Great Love, it will bless those around you and also aid you, in ways practical and profound:
1. Life gets easier. Bringing The Great Love with you as you move through your day makes every interaction smoother and lighter: paying the bridge toll, taking a difficult phone call at work, tackling the to do list. You'll notice less stress and resentment and more connection and ease.
2. Fear dissolves. Love and fear are each all-consuming states of mind; they cannot coexist within us. When we connect to The Great Love, our normal fears and insecurities leaves us, almost instantly.
3. Love comes to you. It is impossible to feel The Great Love for others and not for yourself. Being a channel for The Great Love is giving it and receiving it.
4. You become a magnet, in the nicest way. The Great Love is big, and when you become a conduit for it, you become very big. The contours of your life grow larger. You are empowered to act more boldly because you know your words and ideas aren't just coming from you, but from something large and intelligent and true. You operate with a confidence, humor and calm that draws others toward you.
5. Life's beauty comes alive. When you are in The Great Love and The Great Love is in you, everything is tinged with a stunning beauty, as if the most well-crafted, moving, beautiful play is unfolding in your daily life. The Great Love gives us the opera glasses to see it.
How do you put those opera glasses on?
Cultivating The Great Love
There are more ways to cultivate The Great Love than there are human beings on earth. We are in no shortage of ways for each of us to open to more love.
The most important one is this: Ask. Ask God, spirit, the universe, the power of creation to make you a channel of The Great Love. Ask your inner wisdom what you need to do to become a greater channel for it. In any situation, take your focus off the whirling world around you and turn inward for a few moments. Ask The Great Love to enter the situation, through you, through others and in the space itself.
Here are some other ways to access The Great Love:
1. Bring More Love Into Yourself
Find out how you are withholding love from yourself, and work toward stopping that unjust act. Bring love into your being by pursuing your passions. In any situation, ask yourself, the universe, or the people around you how you can be of service. Give generously of your time, money, and possessions. All of this will bring more love into you.
2. Love the People in Your Midst
Decide that everyone around you is perfect as they are and holds 100 miraculous gifts. Start keeping a list of them. Appreciate them out loud. Every day, give three authentic compliments to strangers or to people you know. Study forgiveness and work toward forgiving the people toward whom you are harboring anger, resentment, hurt and hate.
3. Invite the Great Love In
Grapple with the idea everything is either an expression of love or a call for love. Hold this thought and look for evidence to support it. Believe that everyone is trying as hard as you, and wants the things that you want: belonging, to be heard, to feel competent, accepted, to matter. Hold this thought and look for evidence to support it.
If you ask The Great Love what you need to do to bring more love into yourself today, it will answer you. If you give it your problems, it will transform them. If you invite The Great Love in, it will visit, and welcome you into a softer, saner, more beautiful life.