In preparation for writing this post, I consulted four love-filled constants for inspiration. Below are a sample from each with my reflections on each sample. May these meditations on love inspire you as much.
My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers: "I am sorry for the Christian who has not something in his circumstances he wishes was not there . . . Let tribulation be what it may - exhausting, galling, it is not able to separate us from the love of God." Chambers begins this piece with scripture, Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Nothing, no one. When I consider tribulations which threaded my years before awakening to the reality of Jesus Christ, I see with Windex-wiped clarity how Jesus was reaching into all of my tumult. Nothing, no one could separate His reach for me, nor does anything or anyone now separate Him from me. The paradox of tribulation is that God's love is the propulsion which moves me (you) through tribulation. Thank you, God.
One Day at a Time in Al-Anon, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters Inc.: "An Al-Anon member of long-standing writes of a tragic estrangement between beloved grown daughter and herself . . . We have learned again to love, by accepting each other as we are." The entry in this book of daily meditations ends with a quote from Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island "The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them."
The resentment I felt for my relative who did not behave as I wanted him to behave was a long, miserable twenty-six years. I resented him for not behaving as I believed he should. The evening of my thirty-sixth birthday I was overcome with forgiveness while completing a collage and poem inspired by the collage. I thank Jesus Christ for this gift of forgiveness and how through my love of Christ and Christ's love for me, I became able to love this relative as he is. We now have a unique and loving father-daughter relationship. I could not accomplish forgiveness of my dad without accepting the depths to which Jesus Christ forgives me. Through utter comprehension of this divine reality I became able to forgive and love my father.
For Today, Overeaters Anonymous Inc.: "A sense of loving and being loved is not restricted to one's spouse, children, parents, friends or associates. It can be applied to everything and everyone in God's world. To love and feel loved is nothing less than to have a reverence for life . . . To love unconditionally is a difficult concept for many. Only spiritual recovery can give us an understanding of what it means." There is more to this daily entry from For Today, specifically the opening quote from George Sand, "There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved."
I chose this as inspiration for mediation on love because I liked the writer's suggestion reverence for life gives way to feeling love and giving love. I recall vividly the twenty-four hours within which my spiritual awakening occurred. In the initial twelve hours the world within which I lived was a bleak, drab, and dreary world. Although surrounded by spring blooms and budding trees, I perceived grey as the backdrop for my existence. The twelve hours after (and ever since) my spiritual awakening, I could see for the first time the bright pink of fuchsia azaleas, the vibrant yellow of daffodils, the blue sky, and the rich green of English laurel bush. I had reverence for life for the very first time and through reverence I could see, feel, and know love. God gave me reverence, eyes to see, and the capacity to experience His love.
Courage to Change, Al-Anon Family Groups Inc.: "One sweltering summer day, I sought escape from the heat at a nearby beach. Lying there with my lemonade, I looked at all the people soaking up the sun. No matter how many people were in that beach, there would be enough sun for everyone. I realized that the same was true of God's love and guidance. No matter how many people seek God's help, there is always enough to go around. To someone who believed that there was never enough time, money, love, or anything else, this was amazing news!" The publisher added a quote from one of their other publications to conclude this daily reader entry, "I can learn to avail myself of the immense, inexhaustible, power of God, if I am willing to be continually conscious of God's nearness."
What I miss the most about my mother is her nearness. Being near to who I love is important, I crave nearness because when I love someone so much I want to be even closer to them. That's the hardest part for me about mom's death, her body cannot be next to mine on the couch while watching Wheel of Fortune. Her hand cannot hold mine, nor mine hers. Her arms cannot hug me, nor my arms her. It's rough not being near who I love so, so much. But what sustains me through my grief is the almighty presence of Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, God. The nearness of who is beyond me, yet totally for me, and with me all of the time; God, love is near.
In this month of February as you navigate romance, greeting cards, chocolate, and flowers, may you feel comfort in the near and abundant love of Jesus Christ.