By Donaia De Marco
"Stetching our Limits on Love"
February is a month that gives us a reminder about love. The romantic in us gets a chance to shower our loved ones with all kinds of paraphernalia of the flowering kind…like words and plants. When we were kids, Valentine's day was the day when we could let someone know we liked them. For me, as I was writing out my Valentine's to the rest of the kids in class, I got to see how much I really did like them. In the early grades, I made a point to send a card to everyone in the class…my mother's lesson of "do unto others' ringing loudly in my ears. I knew how I would feel if I was the one who didn't get a single card! As I think about it today, sending a card to everyone seems like coming into compassion by the back door, but I remember one year when my card was one of only a few cards this fellow received. We used to call him "Cowflap" because he lived on a farm and had this funny smell coming off him. No one I knew…knew much about him. Maybe he had to work after school. Hey…what grade was it when it was no longer cool to send Valentine's cards to a bunch of people?
Love is all about expression. One movement of it's energy field is to extend before it envelopes like a mother hen opening her wings and gathering the chicks in close to her body. Another loving movement is opening and letting go…like opening the cage for a little creature, freeing it to take flight and blossom into its own. Another movement of love is touching in a tender, gentle, soothing way…with our eyes, our words, and our gestures. Sometimes the movement of love emanates from a deeper desire for delving into the mystery, the miracle, and the ecstasy of Union with our work, our lover…or a hobby. At other times, a lovely movement of this energy is to drop all direction and resistance…relaxing, enjoying, and allowing ourselves to be carried along like "a leaf on a stream"…or a raging river! Perhaps the most difficult movement of love to comprehend is standing firm in the certainty of love while suffering all kinds of dire consequences like a Jesus or a St. Stephen or any other martyr who has died for reasons of their own.
St Valentine is a timely case in point. Before he was sainted, he was a priest living in Rome in the 260's AD when "Claudius The Cruel" banned engagements and marriages because the men no longer wanted to leave their wives and families to go off to war for him. Imagine! Well, the young 'uns were outraged by the ban and found priests, Valentine among the few, who would marry them in secret. After a time, Valentine was found out and condemned to death. As he awaited execution, supporters came to the jail with flowers and notes. It is said that on the day of his death, February 14, 269, Valentine wrote a note to a guard's daughter, who had been allowed to sit with him in his end-time. The note read, "Love from your Valentine." Hence…to this day, we celebrate Valentine's Day. Quite a story, don't you think? Perhaps martyrdom is why we place so many limits on love. Certainly every time we fall in love we lose our heads…so to speak. Why sacrifice and what exactly is the sacrifice?
Goldsmith says in Consciousness Unfolding, " There is a Spirit in man which can lift him up and guide him through life and can still all the storms of life without his thinking a thought, saying a word, or giving a treatment." What seems to get sacrificed is all the knowing and doing and becoming we are so often caught up in. When we are truly in Love…with somebody or with life itself…our whole being seems to be singing the winter's song of "let it snow, let it snow, let it flow." When we're in Love, we waft easily and gently in joy and peace…we're more content somehow…fulfilled, I guess. Love simply pervades all our thinking, saying and doing to such an extent we feel we're being played by a beautiful Being of style and grace. Thich Nhat Hanh in his book Cultivating the Mind of Love says the "nature of true love is reverence, trust, and faith." He goes on to say, "You have only to allow yourself to be there, to touch deeply each thing you encounter, to walk mindfully, and to help others with the whole of your being." Up north this January, we just experienced a bitter cold accompanied by high winds. We experienced some remarkable, old-fashioned winter days: some all gray and snowy, howling and rattling our window panes as we cranked the heat up; others were so clear and sunny, a fierce light careening off ice-crusted snow and filling crystalline air as we squint and haul in our breath. Up here in New England, we surely know the phrase "ya gotta love it…to appreciate it."
Love draws us to look deeply, to touch deeply. And looking deeply and touching deeply are requisite to "plugging in", as I like to call it. Goldsmith says, "In proportion to your conscious awareness of the presence of God is God available at every second." Love is the partner of peace, and joy and truth are the offspring of that partnership. Thich Nhat Hanh says, " We have within us a miraculous power, and if we live our daily lives in mindfulness…if we take steps mindfully, with love and care…we can produce the miracle and transform our world into a miraculous place to live." So, here's to this February…a time and space to remember to stretch our limits on love. Here's to interbeingness…a perspective that allows us to see and touch dearly the heart and soul of another. And here's to expressing our love daily…an activity that buoys us up and awakens our power and creative potential to behold beauty.
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