Love. Ragged round the edges for use ‘willy nilly’, impossible to define. Contrary, soft, tough and yet so essential to life that babies die if deprived of it.
And thought, even in reading the title of this post, superimposes ‘relationship’ onto love, turning it into a receiving and a giving, subject and object, you and me… This is to mix the message with the messenger, turn love into Lover and Beloved alone with each other and leave the love out…
And yet love-making, mothering, fathering, instinctive and instant responses to great suffering or injury – at their best – point to something unconditional and unchanging, a flavour of love which underpins our desire to access it.
This is love where subject and object disappear but love remains. Where all there is, is love. Until this morning I capitalized this kind of love. Throughout my life I have perceived this ‘unconditional love or God’ as something to aspire to (and assumed us humans were incapable of fully expressing). And yet I believed I had access to it – via various spiritual practices, or through being in nature. There has always been an underlying sense that there is part (and that’s the rub) of me which ‘is that’.
This and the next post – unashamedly long – present the desperately tender, almost imaginable possibility: that love isn’t ‘part’ but all of me. You, me, everything, are expressions of love. Sceptic or jaded lovers? You may stop reading after asking this one question: didn’t something just accept your scepticism and jaded pain?
Starting simple, the first love we experience is that of a parent to us when we are utterly helpless: tender love. We poo in clean nappies, dribble rancid milk over business suits, we cry at the very moment sleep descends on exhausted mums and dads. You’d think we’d be utterly unlovable! But love appears and accepts us again and again.
Doesn’t this mirror how life receives us we appear every moment?
But what of physical pain? What about all the cruelty, suffering, hate and fear in the world? There have been times in my life – no doubt you’ve had them too – when pain or suffering have been intense and appeared beyond endurance. Where is love in the face of horror?
Without a television (my choice) I rely on radio and some other trusted online news channels. I write this in the wake of the massacre in Christchurch, Australia, and the cyclone in Mozambique.
We cannot say love is entirely absent in these places. Immediate actions of love are witnessed and miraculous rescues or escapes are shared. The cyclone was not an act of hatred but nature, possibly earth calling for our attention, our love. And the massacre, ‘though a terrible heinous act of atrocity, came from a crazy misguided individual who either felt he was so needing attention - lack of love - that he was compelled to make himself heard through killing, or believed he was doing white supremacists ‘a favour’ by eliminating our brothers and sisters. Universally, life is moved by love, however perverted.
Toothache sings ‘Love me Tender’.
From the tortured world to the torture of toothache! The night I wrote the first draft of this post, I went to bed with nagging, throbbing toothache. As I lay in the dark, musing on the question ‘where is love?’, it was as if the question was goading me like a laughing torturer…
Don’t ask ‘how’ this happened (it just did), but the tiny possibility of seeing whether love could be present occurred. It started with breathing the pain in as if it were some kind of fragrance, and then letting it be there before the out-breath flowed with the fresh breath of the moment. Each time the pain arrived, something ‘loved it tender’ and, incredibly, it dissolved. This happened for only perhaps five or six times before I fell into a deep and painless sleep.
And it provided an insight. Although I can’t ‘do’ love, sometimes I can’t even accept it, and certainly can’t rationalise it, the benign source of life allows all our inhumanity and wars between rival tribes of ants and blubbery walruses to rise and play out. ‘IT’ accepts it all unconditionally, it is all allowed its expression. Could this be the ultimate awful or awe-full paradoxical response of love’s presence conferring utter freedom, unaltered by our perception of love being a terrifying truth, majestic ineffable oneness, appalling delusion or the paradox of all or none?
The point which changes ‘my world’ every time, is the choice of mirroring life itself or not. We either live pure love or neglect, dilute, pollute or sully it. But its essence remains - conscious or unconscious, hidden or visible… Our hearts, minds and bodies know which they long for.
Whatever you call ‘it’ - this source of life. ‘IT’ even allows your and my ‘buts’ and cries of ‘outrage’ to be. Remove memory or a sense of time air and our gross, polluted, diluted and limited perceptions of love appear and simultaneously disappear.
If the Foundations of Wild Poplars metaphorically represent the foundations of my life, then love is the central tap root, or the soft hard core of them. If ‘love alone is life’, then what we are doing is irrelevant. Our primary purpose is simply to be what we are. All other goals become secondary because they are automatically aligned to it.
However, there’s an aspect of ourselves which might just be feeling a little excluded right now and want to be heard. It usually frames its demand for attention like this: but what about me?
Oh! You. You get the entire next post, all for yourself!
Are you open to undivided attention or is it something you’re going to get hung up on? Hmm… let’s see!