On The Act Of Loving
In the past I’ve gotten stuck when trying to conceptualize how we can both have personal agency in the world and also live within a connective unity that works on our behalf. I have felt blessings and the grace of unexpected gifts and solutions. I have also experienced that my own effort and perseverance bring about desired results.
How do these forces work? Are they separate? How are they related? How can I communicate with whatever that higher power is?
Last Monday (contemplation day) I found myself in the same conundrum but felt more understanding about how these two seemingly different forces are related. This is what came to me:
Energy spent is always reflected back to us. Our own effort and care and love for the world, things, others, and ourselves is the same effort and care and love that life returns us. We generate love by loving.
There is grace. Grace can swoop in at anytime, for any reason or no reason. But this is always a blessing. It is a bonus. We often receive much more than we give, sometimes unexpectedly.
But the formula or pattern or abiding truth to count on is that we do receive back from life the same amount of love and care that we give it. The amount we love is the amount we are loved. We can love plants, ideas, people, animals, ourselves, music, the stars, creations, whatever; but we must love in order to open that pathway of energy that runs both ways. The act of loving widens and illuminates that path so that love comes back to us more easily.
Love is not always reflected back from the objects of our love. Often it is, but just as often it ricochets around and comes back to us from other directions.
We can love people, but we can also love other living things, including works of art. They give back richly and in other ways than human interactions can. Paying close attention allows us to feel what we love. Plants are wonderful to love. Songs and poems are wonderful to love. Landscapes, buildings, books, fences, mugs, sweaters, flocks of birds and clouds are wonderful to love. Love takes concentration and focus, as well as a softening and receptivity to being affected by what we perceive.
Loving is a self-reinforcing practice that increases our capacity to be transformed by what we love, and the transformation is a continuing evolution of our different ways to love. We love by being appreciative, trusting, curious, open, inquisitive, patient, caring, resilient, generous, compassionate, joyful, playful, satisfied, content, accepting, gracious.
I think grace is unexpected and not part of the formula, but instead is extra and is the magic of life. But the not magic (even though it really is) is that even in the absence of grace, we are loved by the world in equal accordance to how much we love the world.