In the Winter 2018/19 edition of Spirituality in the City, we asked some of our readers to answer the profound question, ‘what does love mean to me?’ Their answers were deeply enlightening and heartwarming. They gave us a lot to ponder about!
Spirituality in the City
What does love mean to you??
When asked to write a piece on what love means to me I felt like Winnie the Pooh when Piglet asked, “How do you spell LOVE?” The wise bear replied, “You don’t spell it, you feel it.”
The love I have for my son Harry is a particularly special one. I struggle to describe the love I have for Harry. Harry struggles with words too; he is five, has cerebral palsy and is a wheel-chair user. He cannot tell me he loves me but a hug from him would cut off your carotid artery.
He gives love unconditionally and teaches me the value of kindness. He is resilient and determined, and watching him make progress (however slowly) reminds me that in times of adversity I must dig deep and persevere. He is my bright, shining star, and I wake every day so immensely grateful l that I am the lucky one who gets to be his mum. So dear Pooh, I totally get you. You don’t spell LOVE, you feel it.
As a child I understood the words, “Love others as you love yourself.” Then, I began to live in the world. I grew with the world and, from a misguided sense of service, I unbalanced the sentence. I leaned towards loving others alone.
The world liked my loving projections and I gladly supplied. Like a fragile bird my love flew, flapped, and fluttered. It struggled. It couldn’t keep up with the insatiable demand for love.
Flying so far away, my love lost its balance and sought shelter in notions of love. The bird becomes trapped. Eyes dulled, it’s beauty wanes and its strength weakens.
Unless it wakes up and remembers its wings. That it can still fly, and seek its rightful place – Home.
As an adult of 36, I realise I need to learn the words the other way round. “Love yourself. Only then, can you love others.” Not selfish love, or self-less love: Self- Love.
Only now am I beginning that journey. So, at the moment, this is what love means to me.
Love is pretty popular in mainstream culture. We like it. It feels good. It seems safe enough…right?!
I think not. I say that love is the most radically subversive idea of all time. It’s totally anarchic, taking no heed of bureaucratic decisions, political borders nor family feuds. It does precisely what it wants (which is always profoundly unpredictable) with a blatant disregard for any rules. This is a wild and terrifyingly free force living in us.?If we were all to start loving one another, just think what might happen to law enforcement! Prisons, courts, police, the entire war industry and even bicycle lock makers would become obsolete.
Love’s true danger to our known way of life runs even deeper still. What if we were to love deeply enough that we saw through to the perfect truth, purity and goodness at the core of our beings? We would have no choice but to acknowledge that we in fact are Love itself and that the problem-filled things we thought we were never even existed in the first place.
For a long time love was something outside of me. If I was smart, or funny enough, or looked a certain way, I might just be lucky enough for love to enter my life – and it did on occasion. There would be butterflies and excitement, longing and craving for the source of love to come along so I could experience my next fix.
I realised, though, that with this love came its opposite, Fear: if love was outside of me, I could just as easily lose it again.
Then, one day, something changed in me. Fear just fell away. The only way I can describe it is as if my ego just got up and packed its bags and walked out the door.
I now started to see the world through the eyes of a child and I started to feel what real love was. All that was left was love. It wasn’t selective: it didn’t pick or choose who or what it would love. It was all-inclusive: it was the love of what is.
I used to dream about growing up and falling in love!! That makes me laugh today because I now realise Love has many faces – from family to friendship, not just the romantic love experience.
It’s experiential, expressed in and through the dynamics of our relationships. But somehow it goes beyond that too. I think it’s the fundamental law to the meaning of life itself.
We all have hearts, the planet too. Love nourishes the heart, mind and spirit of each person. We flourish whether receiving or giving it through actions of kindness, compassion, sharing, caring, truthfulness, or just simple goodness.
But, sometimes, I find it hard. Then forgiveness becomes part of the deal. So, I pray for God to open my heart a little further and keep practicing. Love transforms our lives, our consciousness and ultimately heals, but we have to practice it.
Every day presents opportunities to choose. Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I want to live a life that answers the question, did I love well? rather than did I live well.
Sandra M. Kwiatkowska
I don’t know what love means…
But I know how it feels.
I know this gentle feeling of the space of an open heart.
That still, vast dimension between let it be and let it go.
That sensation, when my heart is tired of the constant chasing of the mind,
And when it realises, that the only right thing is to surrender…
When you ask me what does love mean to me,
I assume that you want me to analyse something which by its nature cannot be analysed.
Would you be able to analyse the feeling that fills up your heart when you see life waking up at sunrise?
Would you be able to analyse the feeling when you watch butterfly wings flapping in the wind?
Would you be able to analyse the warmth you experience when you look into another’s being eyes, and when you see their soul?
Love doesn’t need an explanation.
Love is the essence of life.
Love is the emptiness of fear.
Love is the limitless nature of every sentient being…
With love, Sandra (Heart Singing)