Love (Advent Meditation)

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
—1 John 4:7–8

 

The beginning and end of everything is love. Only inside of this mystery of the exchange of love can we know God. If we stay outside of that mystery, we cannot know God.
— Richard Rohr (adapted from Love Is the Only Message homily on May 13, 2012)

 

The First Evidence Of Civilization

Someone once asked anthropologist Margaret Mead what she considered to be the first evidence of civilization. She answered: a human thigh bone with a healed fracture found in an archaeological site 15,000 years old. Why not tools for hunting or religious artifacts or primitive forms of communal self-governance?  Mead points out that for a person to survive a broken femur the individual had to have been cared for long enough for that bone to heal. Others must have provided shelter, protection, food and drink over an extended period of time for this kind of healing to be possible. The great anthropologist Margaret Mead suggests that the first indication of human civilization is care over time for one who is broken and in need, evidenced through a fractured thigh bone that was healed.

— Ira Byock from The Best Care Possible: A Physician’s Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life

 

Look Beyond the Broken

In my conversation with Oprah on “Super Soul Sunday,” I found myself saying, “To be broken is no reason to see all things as broken.” This notion has been a profound teacher for me in meeting difficulty. Though it’s understandable to be consumed with what we’re going through, it’s essential to remember that all of life is not where we are. In fact, this is when we need the aliveness and vitality of everything that is not us. When closed, we need to open. When fearful, we need to trust again. When feeling lost, we need to remember that we are in the stream of life, which is never lost.

I’ve come to believe that we were all broken from the same nameless heart, and every living thing wakes with a piece of that original heart aching its way into being. Along the way, we are broken open like seeds that bear fruit, so we can meet each other and be touched by each other; so we can remember and inhabit the one precious life we’re given. And when broken of all that gets in the way, we suddenly know each other below our strangeness. This is why when we fall, we lift each other; or when in pain, we hold each other; why when sudden with joy, we dance together. Life is the many pieces of that great heart loving itself back together.

— Mark Nepo (author of The Book of Awakening) from What to Do When You’re Broken (Oprah.com)

 

Embracing A Love Ethic

Embracing a love ethic means that we utilize all the dimensions of love—“care, commitment, trust, responsibility, respect, and knowledge”—in our everyday lives. We can successfully do this only by cultivating awareness. Being aware enables us to critically examine our actions to see what is needed so that we can give care, be responsible, show respect, and indicate a willingness to learn. . . . When love is present the desire to dominate and exercise power cannot rule the day. All the great social movements for freedom and justice in our society have promoted a love ethic. Concern for the collective good of our nation, city, or neighbor rooted in the values of love makes us all seek to nurture and protect that good. If all public policy was created in the spirit of love, we would not have to worry about unemployment, homelessness, schools failing to teach children, or addiction … To live our lives based on the principles of a love ethic (showing care, respect, knowledge, integrity, and the will to cooperate), we have to be courageous. Learning how to face our fears is one way we embrace love. Our fear may not go away, but it will not stand in the way. 

— William Morrow from All about Love

 

To Love At All Is To Be Vulnerable

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

— C. S. Lewis from The Four Loves

 

All Of Humanity Is Somehow Together

To feel the intimacy of brothers is a marvelous thing in life. To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses — that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things.

That exchange brought home to me for the first time a precious idea: that all of humanity is somehow together…

It won’t surprise you then that I attempted to give something resiny, earthlike, and fragrant in exchange for human brotherhood. Just as I once left the pinecone by the fence, I have since left my words on the door of so many people who were unknown to me, people in prison, or hunted, or alone.

— Pablo Neruda from Neruda and Vallejo

 

God Has A Fondness For What Is Fragile

God has a fondness for what is fragile. This means us. Advent tells us that God came to us—and comes to us still—with complete vulnerability. Christ is to be found among what is fragile—including us, ourselves, when pain and loss have left us feeling less than whole. In coming to us as a child, Christ chooses to take on our human vulnerability. We see this not only in his birth but also, with awful clarity, at the other end of his life, when on the cross he shows us the lengths he is willing to go to in order to enter into our experience.

In my brokenness, can I see my vulnerability as a place where God wants to know me?

― Jan Richardson from This Luminous Darkness: Searching for Solace in Advent and Christmas

 

Love Is Why We Have Hope

The news of late has captured the fever dream of modern life: everything exploding, burning, being shot, or crashing to the ground all around us, while growing older has provided me with a measure of perspective and equilibrium, and a lovely, long-term romance. Towns and cities, ice fields, democracy, people—all disappear, while we rejoice and thrive in the spring and the sweetness of old friendships. Families are tricky. There is so much going on that flattens us, that is huge, scary, or simply appalling. We’re doomed, stunned, exhausted, and overcaffeinated.

And yet, outside my window, yellow roses bloom, and little kids horse around, making a joyous racket.

In general, it doesn’t feel like the light is making a lot of progress. It feels like death by annoyance. At the same time, the truth is that we are beloved, even in our current condition, by someone; we have loved and been loved. We have also known the abyss of love lost to death or rejection, and that it somehow leads to new life. We have been redeemed and saved by love, even as a few times we have been nearly destroyed, and worse, seen our children nearly destroyed. We are who we love, we are one, and we are autonomous.

Love has bridged the high-rises of despair we were about to fall between. Love has been a penlight in the blackest, bleakest nights. Love has been a wild animal, a poultice, a dinghy, a coat. Love is why we have hope.

— Anne Lamott from Almost Everything

 

We Are Here Not Only To Transform The World But Also To Be Transformed

We are here not only to transform the world but also to be transformed. Transformation is difficult, so it is good to know that there is comfort as well as challenge in the metaphor of life as a cycle of seasons. Illumined by that image, we see that we are not alone in the universe. We are participants in a vast communion of being, and if we open ourselves to its guidance, we can learn anew how to live in this great and gracious community of truth. We can, and we must—if we want our sciences to be humane, our institutions to be sustaining, our healings to be deep, our lives to be true.

— Parker Palmer from Let Your Life Speak

 

Look on the rising sun: there God does live 
And gives his light, and gives his heat away. 
And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive
Comfort in morning joy in the noonday.

And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love …

— William Blake from The Little Black Boy

 

See Also:

Will you help? You can help this site by making a contribution here. Your ongoing support makes this site possible and helps me to continue posting.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com