Sunday, January 5, 2014


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 once wrote a fine piece on that theme 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 then raging 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, Jesus Christ, 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. 

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)
Emily Dickinson (restored photo)

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 (1757-1827) engraving

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.


  1. What a great way to start off my day!

    Forgiveness is a beautiful phenomenon that I want to cultivate in my life.

    Happy New Year, FT.

  2. Thanks for the nod. Wish you'd provided a link. Unfortunately, I don't remember that post!

    "The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them." - Ernest Hemingway

  3. From personal experience I believe it's the random acts of kindness of strangers that remain in ones mind long after the occurrence and more than likely if you were to meet that stranger again in the present that person would have no recollection of the particular act that you vividly recall.

    Visiting Montreal with friends when I was about 21 years old, I stopped a person on the street to ask for directions on getting to Mount Royal around which the city is built. The stranger asked if I had a car and when I said that I did, she told me to wait right there and she would come by and to follow her car to where I wanted to go. I did and for some reason that is one incident in life that I still recall decades later.

    Several years later, at a time I had moved to Montreal by some strange quirk of fate in a job that I had, my vehicle stalled in rush hour traffic,as it was storming heavily with a mixture of rain and snow. Within a few minutes another vehicle pulled over in front of me to ask what was wrong, when I told him, he said he knew the problem from having a similar vehicle before. It the middle of traffic and stormy weather this man popped the hood, cleaned the distributor cap and shortly I was on my way again.

    Funny how I recall those random acts of strangers but pay less attention when close friends or family have likely done more meaningful acts in my life, that I would vaguely recall, and only if reminded.

    Even more recently, before Christmas this year, I was passing through a popular drive thru coffee line and I was giving the money to pay, I was told the total was 15 cents. I was taken aback. Only later did I realize this was a random act of kindness, from the stranger ahead of me in the line-up "paying it forward". That person had paid $5 toward the charges of the vehicle following it thru the line.

    I have bought drinks, lunches and dinners for friends and relatives over the years, and had these acts returned in kind, but the details do not stand out in my mind as do those "random acts".

    I doubt that those kind people were obeying the dictates of scripture, but it's possible.

  4. God works in mysterious ways, Waylon. Lots of very fine, intelligent people who think they don't believe in Him are still working for Him when they act in accordance with The Golden Rule, which is the ONLY rule humanity ever would need, if people understood what it meant, and realized it applies to everyone equally regardless of their situation in life.

    It's terribly simple:

    If you ACT in a godly manner, you ARE a godly person. If you DON'T, you AIN'T. ;-)

    Only PHARISEES -- and LAWYERS -- MARTINETS -- and other would-be DESPOTS -- are so bogged down with myriad details they can't see the forest for the trees. So, they miss the whole point of being alive, poor things!



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