Loving is an Art
Not a Feeling
“It’s easy to say ‘I love you,’ but putting love into action is the work of a lifetime.”
Kurt Silverfiddle wrote a beautiful piece on that theme the other day in reference to his marriage and family life. Truer sentiments have never been said, and Kurt expressed them persuasively in his characteristically modest style. Unfortunately (I thought) concern for the devastating fires in and around Colorado quickly took over the thread, and thoughts of love were soon abandoned in favor of concern for possible disaster.
We need continually to be reminded of what's truly important, because we allow –– even encourage –– ourselves to get too preoccupied with all that seems wrong, threatening, annoying or unattractive, and let it mar the moment, cloud our vision for the future, or spoil our sleep. Even worse, we let myriad forms of negativity keep us from getting in touch with our better angels, our deepest capacities –– our true selves.
What most us need is to make a determined effort each day to express approval, appreciation and affection by giving the kind of gifts and performing little services we know would delight, amuse, enrich and reassure our family and friends. In other words we need to give of ourselves –– an old expression that regrettably seems to have gone out of favor.
There’s even more we must do, of course, if we are to become truly loving:
Always give everyone the benefit of the doubt, at least until there is no possibility of doubt left, and even then try to forgive those who offend or annoy.
If Our Master could forgive His torturers and murderers from the Cross, surely we ought to find enough Charity in our hearts to forgive those who irritate us, fail to appreciate us, wrongfully accuse us, and "despitefully use" us.
|Paul Gaugin: The Yellow Christ|
Thinking less and less of our own sorrows, pet peeves, aggravations and unfulfilled needs, and more and more of the needs and feelings of others is not only the most loving thing we could do, it is also the best gift we could ever give ourselves.
Our own burdens become much lighter, and we see our lives in better perspective when we give what we can to alleviate the suffering and allay the doubts and fears of others.
Again the poet says it so much better than I possibly could:
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain.
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
~ Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
We fulfill our own needs best by serving others with no expectation of special rewards for ourselves.
Also, making a habit of always looking for and expressing RECOGNITION and APPRECIATION of whatever virtues, talents, and attempts “to make a difference” others make, however vain, is an oft-neglected way of giving love.
Walt Whitman said:
“Be curious, not judgmental.”
“Whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud.”
There’s so much nurturing wisdom and truth in poetry –– and so many probing, penetrating issues raised. How unstintingly it could enrich our lives, if only we had enough curiosity to make us set aside our petty concerns, and explore the Cosmos in depth!
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour ...
William Blake! Unique poet, artist, mystic, visionary, sage, whose life spanned the late eighteenth and early nineteenth-centuries, knew as well or better than anyone I’ve ever encountered that words mean nothing, unless they are brought to life with understanding gained in an honest, never-ending search for wisdom, and that all true wisdom is rooted in the Love, which is God, Himself.
|Salvador Dali: The Crucifixion|