The seven years are up. My soul feels a little softer, a little worn in that good way that makes things more beautiful. Often I wake up with an aching to process my life, to face the good and the bad. And so I’ve begun a little ritual of sitting out on my porch in the mornings and speaking to God. He is helping me sort it out. As Henry Nouwen says, “in prayer we slowly experience a reorientation of all our thoughts and feeling about ourselves and others.”
Sitting on my back porch I soak in the richness of morning light coming over my fence. I feel Him with me. Lately He’s been using moments in my days to sharpen my vision. It’s becoming more and more clear that I had no idea what love really is. Up until now I would have told you that I loved and loved with intensity. The kind of intensity that meant I would go through fire for the ones I love. But, I think, love must be more than this.
It’s becoming clear that I don’t give love, nor do I accept it from anyone else. Love would leave me indebted. Love would leave me exposed. I think those are two of my greatest fears. But without love all these years, I find that I am barren. That the wall between me, my God, and the rest of the souls out there is not a wall of safety. It is isolating, soul sucking, creativity killing.
I was reminded recently that love is a verb. We must do love. Love is in the little gestures, remembrances, unheard prayers, difficult decisions, the willingness to stay. Love is a force of nature, just like the One who created it. It is unflagging. It brings hope, healing, kindness, truth. Love is the great romancer. It is radical. Contrary to human nature. Love takes great courage, perhaps the greatest courage.
“Is love a fancy, or a feeling? No,
It is immortal as immaculate Truth.
‘Tis not a blossom, shed as soon as youth
Drops from the stem of life— for it will grow,
In barren regions, where no waters flow…” [ Hartley Coleridge ]
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
[ I Corinthians 13:7-8 ]
This post isn’t about how nicely I can write about love. It’s about putting fingers and hearts around the radically different way life is lived with love. Living love is the narrow road. But it is from the Great Love, so it’s by far the best road to walk. Lately I’ve been trying to practice love through the small gestures. My ungraceful attempts remind me of how unpracticed I am, but even my bungling attempts are so much better than nothing. Do you live love? Would you be willing to write some of the ways you love others?