I was confused.
I thought I knew what love was, having been in love, having been raised on love, having served love, having lost in love. So I asked a wise young man,
"I don't know what love is. What is love?'
Without missing a beat, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world he told me, "Attention. Appreciation."
That was cogent and clear. A slap on the cheek from a master.
From then on, it became my definition of love. All of that love I had been raised on and lived within began to have a new vehicle, kind of a Ferrari of emotional intelligence that I could ride into all situations. I found it very sleek and elegant, "Attention. Appreciation."
To live this, to bring love to the table requires a willingness to be vulnerable to the moment, vulnerable to the ones we love, vulnerable to the full context of the situation in which we would have love flourish.
When love does flourish, it does so because of an intimacy of the heart, one where all hearts are in alignment, all hearts are in tune, meaning all hearts are attending to love and appreciating those beloved.
That's close. Very cozy. Scary close for many.
Yet, if someone takes the first step towards love, takes a chance on being the carrier of love, love tends to follow-on from others. It is a form of resonance, love, in which the heart and mind that animates us all and each rings to the same tone.
But someone has to go there first.
Apparently, we are so damaged by the abuse of life's assorted manipulations, many cannot trust in love, dare not open themselves less they again get dashed on the rocks of their disappointment.
In the beginning we are all in love but if trust is broken, we are always wary of love's generous offer.
The Bembe are a people of East Africa I have been serving for a number of years. They are very bright, fiercely loyal, funny, industrious and ambitious. They teach me so much. They've also know a long history of brutal oppression, full of broken promises, forged in generations of mistrust for outsiders who have systematically pillaged their people and lands. We are working together to abandon and replace this tired story with something new that is in tune with their native aspiration for justice and harmony.
If I take them a model or a plan for such a thing, they examine it, admire it, evaluate it, then step back and say, "If I see you climb up, I will follow."
Love grows just so.
If I bring love to chaos, if I stabilize love in chaos, love will begin to echo back. It is always ready to do so. One must anchor love, set a line that others can follow.
Pay attention to your world. Appreciate the world you grow your mastery in. It will recognize you for who you are. Show it you love it. Stabilize love. Sustain it.
Lift yourself up into the native heights love opens for everyone.
If you climb up to those heights, the world will follow.