Saturday, December 5, 2009

Getting Off the Elevator

Ahava ('love' in Hebrew), Cor-ten steel sculpt...

The other day a friend of mine posed the question, "How does the ability or desire to love fade?" My first inclination was to go up into my head and intellectualize. Then it occurred to me I should "get off the elevator" and see what the heart had to say, so I switched off the computer and decided to sleep on it. With a cup of Whole Foods Holiday Blend at the ready, I'd like to give it a try this morning.

Desire and ability are two different things. I'm not sure everyone has the ability though most of us have the desire at some point. For me, loving involves placing someone (or something), along with their best interests, above my own. To do that, Planet Beggar has to be willing to orbit someone other than himself. This is the essence of spirituality.

Those who are narcissistically-impaired have no center other than themselves. The intention of their attention is to draw others into orbit around them. How you feel and what is important to you is ultimately of no consequence because you can never possess greater value than that which they claim for themselves. Whatever it's called, by my definition, this isn't love.

The desire to love fades as we discover, sometimes imperceptibly, that it has been misdirected. I have nothing to base this on except my own beliefs, but I think even animals shift their loyalty when love is denied them. Speaking as a person of faith, the only entity capable of, and willing to, love unreservedly and without at least a little bit of reciprocation, is God. And if there's anything I've learned as a minister, it's that there is a God and I'm not him. I'll bang my head against a door until it hurts, but sooner or later, even I can get the message there's nobody home.

Love seeks its own kind. And, by the way, I'm not talking specifically about romance. Love is unrelenting in its efforts to find itself in others, whether we call them friend, father, sister, or sweetheart. Loving once we wish to love again, and again, all the while our capacity growing in proportion to our giving. This is the essence of generosity.

There is an ebb and flow to love. As it eases away from what has proven unfruitful, it flows toward that which is. This is the essence of hope. Love seeking, love reaching, love laying hold of another, one after the other, this is the essence of love.


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