Live Your Love
I used to meditate a lot. I probably should try to pretend that I still do, but the truth is I don't. I became an intellectual a few years back, and intellectuals don't meditate. Intellectuals read and study and ponder. Meditation is for people who are "spiritual but not religious" -- and I have qualms with that phrase. I think a lot of people hide behind it. I did.
But I'm on a journey of sorts -- an odyssey. That's what my therapist calls it. And I find that my journey is somehow taking me both forwards and backwards simultaneously. I'm moving forward in ways I could not have imagined, but, as I do so, I find myself drawn back in time to things I cherished, things I practiced, things I desired and pursued as a younger version of myself. Some of those things are childish and should be put away. Some of those things, however, are childlike and should be recaptured.
I used to meditate a lot, and I think meditation is one of those things that I need to recapture in order to be the real me that I once was and that I sometimes still am but that I would like to be more often. Meditation, for me, reminds me of things -- deep things -- things that are vitally important for me.
I remember asking a teacher once about meditation. I had thought that the point was to clear one's mind of all thought. As an anxious person with a busy mind, I find this impossible to do. My teacher gave me this suggestion: Rather than trying to stop your thoughts when you meditate, focus your attention on the most important thing in life.
For me, that meant love. Meditation wasn't me trying to just enter into a clear, blank space; meditation was a chance for me to focus all of my thoughts on love. What is love? What does love feel like, smell like, sound like? What does love do?
My theology tells me that God is love. Everything God does, he does from love and with love. Everything God touches has the fingerprints of love -- a residue of love -- on it and in it. This includes me. This includes you. This includes my friend. This includes my enemy. As I begin to think with God, then, I begin to see the love of God everywhere I look.
Even when I look at myself.
Perhaps this is what St. Paul meant when he said that it's possible to take on the mind of Christ -- a mind that thinks through the lens of love in all situations and circumstances. I find that when I am able to tune into love in this way, I let go of cynicism, judgment, self-criticism, feelings of unworthiness, resentment, fear.
On my way to becoming a bona fide intellectual, I read a lot of books. Periodically, I would be asked to read a book for the sole purpose of critiquing it -- usually from a "Christian perspective" (as if there's only one perspective that would qualify as Christian). I remember when a concerned mother showed up in my office begging me to read this novel about a young boy studying to become a wizard. Surely this book would encourage children to explore the dark arts of Wiccan magick! That was the most preposterous thing I had ever heard, but I dutifully read the novel and gave my report. The first book I ever had published with my name on it was a response to Dan Brown's historically dubious tale of Jesus having a wife and the Catholic Church's cover up of the scandal.
One book I read during that time period was called A Course in Miracles. It has been built up and torn down plenty of times by plenty of people. And I find it to be vague and New Agey. But I also find a lot of Jesus in it. Go ahead. Report me to the Evangelical, neo-Fundamentalist authorities. There's Jesus in this book. There's other stuff, too, but there's no denying there's Jesus in here.
For example, the book says: "You are the work of God, and His work is wholly lovable and wholly loving. This is how a man must think of himself in his heart, because this is what he is."
The book says that you have two selves: one is real; the other is imaginary. The real self is the you who God made you to be. The imaginary self is your ego. The real you is made of love. The fake you is made of fear. To quote the book, "You have but two emotions [love and fear]. One you made and one was given you. Each is a way of seeing, and different worlds arise from their different sights."
That's profound right there. That's...dare I say...biblical.
The book goes on to say: "Put all your faith in the love of God within you; eternal, changeless and forever unfailing. This is the answer to what confronts you today. Through the Love of God within you, you can resolve all seeming difficulties without effort and in sure confidence. Tell yourself this often today. It is a declaration of release from the belief in idols. It is your acknowledgment of the truth about yourself."
That sounds like a mashup of Philippians and 1 John.
Sometimes when I'm in church I'll hear someone invite God to be present. I know what they mean, but this is just theologically wrong. God is present. In fact, to use theologically precise language, we say that God is omnipresent -- he's always and everywhere. You don't invite God's presence; you recognize God's presence.
Since God is love, this means that love is also present -- right here -- right now -- in me -- around me. Love is here where I live, so I don't have to invite it or summon it from "out there" -- I simply need to recognize it "in here". Love is not a technique you learn or a secret you only discover after a long and arduous journey. Love is present, and love will teach you how to love.
Moreover, if you want to know what love is, you must be willing to live your love. If I am going to grow in love -- in my ability to love and be loved in return -- I must set my mind on this one intention: find someone to love in word and deed. Be love incarnate for someone. Embody love for that person. Love is more than an intellectual exercise. It does no good to love everyone in general if you never get around to loving someone specifically.
Find someone. Determine to love them. Live your love.