Finding the Right Words

February 22, 2017

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“Little by little, the desire for all things
which perhaps is not desire at all
but undying love which perhaps
is not love at all but gratitude
for the being of all things which
perhaps is not gratitude at all
but the maker’s joy in what is made,
the joy in which we come to rest.”
— Wendell Berry, “XII” from Sabbaths 2007

Sweethearts candies for Valentine's Day

Sweethearts candies for Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day card

Valentine’s Day card

I like the following paragraph about love, which reminds us that Love is a sacred responsibility, a sacred trust.  It seems appropriate to reflect on the duties of loving well on this Valentine’s Day 2017 because given today’s political climate, we feel called upon to fight fiercely to protect what we love and value.

“It isn’t enough to love a child and wish her well.  It isn’t enough to open my heart to a bird-graced morning.  Can I claim to love a morning, if I don’t protect what creates its beauty?  Can I claim to love a child, if I don’t use all the power of my beating heart to preserve a world that nourishes children’s joy?  Loving is not a kind of la-de-da.  Loving is a sacred trust.  To love is to affirm the absolute worth of what you love and to pledge your life to its thriving — to protect it fiercely and faithfully, for all time.”
— Kathleen Dean Moore, “The Call to Forgiveness at the End of the Day,”  from A Sense of Wonder:  The World’s Best Writers on the Sacred, the Profane, & the Ordinary, ed. Brian Doyle

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine card

Valentine card

Take Love for Granted
by Jack Ridl

Assume it’s in the kitchen,
under the couch, high
in the pine tree out back,
behind the paint cans
in the garage. Don’t try
proving your love
is bigger than the Grand
Canyon, the Milky Way,
the urban sprawl of L.A.
Take it for granted. Take it
out with the garbage. Bring
it in with the takeout. Take
it for a walk with the dog.
Wake it every day, say,
“Good morning.” Then
make the coffee. Warm
the cups. Don’t expect much
of the day. Be glad when
you make it back to bed.
Be glad he threw out that
box of old hats. Be glad
she leaves her shoes
in the hall. Snow will
come. Spring will show up.
Summer will be humid.
The leaves will fall
in the fall. That’s more
than you need. We can
love anybody, even
everybody. But you
can love the silence,
sighing and saying to
yourself, “That’ s her.”
“That’s him.” Then to
each other, “I know!
Let’s go out for breakfast!”

 

Bleeding  hearts

Bleeding hearts

“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.  Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith.  Nothing we do, however, virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love.  No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint.  Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.”
— Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History

 

“And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?”

“I did.”

“And what did you want?”

“To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the Earth.”
— Raymond Carver, Late Fragments

Shelf of family photos

Shelf of family photos

“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.”
— Victor Hugo

I chose this shelf of family photos as my 10th “life object” because after all, they represent the true objects of my affection, my family and friends.  When it is all said and done, I think it is my relationships that will prove the worth of my life.  I am lucky indeed because I do feel beloved.

I am no longer a daughter or granddaughter.  But I am still a wife, mother, sister, aunt, cousin, and friend.  And although these ties and connections are the most rewarding parts of my life, they are also my biggest challenges and, from time to time, the biggest sources of pain.  Sometimes I suck at relationships.  I make mistakes and disappoint myself and others.  I unintentionally hurt the ones I love best.  I’m stubborn and critical and stuck in my ways.  Oh my, I could go on and on about my faults.  But so far, thankfully, I’ve been able to start again.  And again. And try better.

Here are a couple of lessons I try to remember when things start falling apart:

“One of the basic problems in close relationships is the tendency to expect the other person to be and act the person you want them to be.  It takes considerable maturity to allow the other to live his or her own life.  You may have certain needs that you hope your friend or lover or family member will fulfill.  You may live by certain rules and habits that you hope everyone will adopt.  You may have a worldview that works for you, and you can’t understand why someone closer to you doesn’t share it.  This clinging to self-interests has to change.  You may have to learn to appreciate and ultimately enjoy the other person’s ways and especially the mysteries that lead them on.

Allowing the other his or her own life and destiny is a spiritual achievement, a religious act, if you will, that raises the relationship above the level of mere human connection.”
— Thomas Moore, A Religion of One’s Own

“Love is an act of endless forgiveness.”
— Jan Karon, Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good

“If we look at another person only as a self, we see differences.  If we look at others as possessors of a soul, we see ourselves reflected in them.”
— Rudolfo Anaya, Jalamanta: A Message from the Desert

“Take the love . . . leave the judgement.”
— Mary Muncil  (This lesson was simply and beautifully illustrated in a blog post that a friend forwarded to me.)

 

Love stamps

Love stamps

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything and your heart will be wrung, and possibly broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with your hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change.  It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
— C. S. Lewis, quoted in In Pursuit of Love:  Catholic Morality and Human Sexuality by Vincent Genovesi

I love this reminder to keep my heart soft, vulnerable and open.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Compass Bearings of Love

February 12, 2011

Compass bearings

“He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.”
     — W. H. Auden