Friday, July 31, 2009

Persistence on the Path to True Love

Do you remember the “Easy” button from that office supply store commercial? Pressing a button and having everything done sounds great, doesn’t it?

That’s probably why magic lamps and genies and wishing wells and fairy godmothers and lotteries are so fun to think about. Imagine a poof of smoke, a magic wand or a windfall of money that could take all of our problems and labors away.

Nope, life doesn’t work that way. Do you wonder why? Why do things have to get bad — then worse — before we start to appreciate our families and friends and life?

Um, we’re humans. We can’t point to light without the shadow. We don’t think about slow and fast until we’re stuck in traffic and realize we haven’t eaten. We don’t notice chaos in our lives until stillness…or illness…sweeps in.

This triathlon called life is designed to help us see the truth. We are children. Then we are adults. Then we are the aged. Most of us stay focused on the exhaustion and anxiety of the race. We get distracted by the swimming, biking and running. But occasionally we catch a glimpse of the finish line.

That finish line, my friends, is true love.

Not the mushy, movie “true love.” That love is chemically engineered to get us dense humans to reproduce. Taken too seriously, chemical lusty love leads to further idiocy and sends too many of us bikers and clumsy runners careening into the ditch bloodied and bruised. The world thrives and implodes on the highs and lows of this disastrous love.

No. True love cannot easily be expressed. But when you feel it, you are never the same. It fills you so completely that anger and despair, ambition and envy dissolve like fog. It’s the love a mother can feel for her child at the sound of its first cry. It’s the love that sweeps over us in nature. It’s the love of grace when we don’t deserve forgiveness but receive it in an instant through our most desperate sorrow and repentance. The veil is lifted. We see the truth of who we really are for the first time.

This love shows you that you’ve been running asleep, biking off the path, swimming alone and sick in a sea of brothers and sisters. Every person is precious. You could never again ignore their worth, never again cross boundaries that harm them or yourself. To do so is a living death.

Yep, it sounds like I’m drinking some good wine right now. That’s just because even if you’ve felt true love, you can’t explain it. And it’s hard to BE that love because the world constantly tells you to seek achievement and pleasure, stuff and status. It tells you that you are alone. ALONE. Who could possibly love you? How could you feel it if they did? You’re nothing. You’re bad. And you’re ALONE.

Little wonder that true love is rare and hard to believe — a love sasquatch giving free hugs in the wilderness. When you see it radiating from the few humans who have recognized and embraced it, the truth can either bring you to your knees with unspeakable joy or send you screaming down another dark, but all too familiar path.

True love is really, really, really scary. It makes you face your innermost demons and realize that YOU (or who you think you are) has to die. Your life up to this defining moment is one big, fat lie. A travesty. A sin. A truly sad tale.

Who among you is brave enough to believe that a life — your life — can be changed, SAVED IN AN INSTANT? The emptiness and sickness CAN fall away in the embrace of true love. The proof is how you live from that day forward. You can’t go back. You can’t stay the same. And it’s a long race. Some minds will never be convinced. But that’s not your goal. You don’t have to come in first place and get the gold star and have everyone congratulate you on your success and be your best friends. You just have to start and persist and remember to tie your shoelaces every day.

After all, you don’t know how much time you’ve been given to set things right.

But here’s the beautiful irony: You’ve already won the race! When everything falls away and there is nothing left of YOU…true love is the tiny whisper in your heart that remains:

“I love you, kid. You never have to feel alone again. Thank you for coming home to me. It’s about time.”

No. Not easy. Just true love.