Like any “universal” word … Love is actually a word which means whatever you or I like (or don’t like) it to mean.
Which means it is not universally understood.
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Because when I was a toddler it just meant “mum and dad and everyone”. All my life was Love – just without knowing the word itself. Then as a teenager love became a physical “doing word” – a doing that was self-love (when no one was about) – and then with “girls” (when the chance arose). Because with “girls”, the phrase “I love you” became a tried and tested key to unlock new forbidden treasures! A key and a lock I never understood the connection between (but used anyway). Then as a brand-new husband love meant so much more than just physical doing and emotional feeling. Because what more can anyone give than themselves: body and soul and time and priorities and finances …? And then with children – as a new father – I found out that there is indeed more! A lot more. Not all good. A lot of giving and much less getting. A lot of doing and not so much feeling good (but a lot of feeling exhausted – physically and mentally).
And the beginning of another journey. The journey of living with love – but fitting it in with all the other stuff that is important.
A career and promotion and financial reward. A lifestyle to provide and money and promotion and work. Discovering that getting an ego-stroke at work is much more rewarding than finding it in a knackered-falling-asleep-wife-and-mother-at-home. Because work rewards what home-life doesn’t. And work-power is an aphrodisiac. And some care not that I have a family. And I can think that way too if I choose. It is a powerful temptation.
And “love” is threaded throughout all of that. Except “love” means different things to each of us AND at different stages of our individual AND shared living AND we are all good at finding reasons to validate our behaviour AND all practiced at “being right”.
Love becomes embedded in transaction.
So I know that “love” is not universally understood OR agreed.
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And here is what it means to me now. After six-and-a-bit decades. In a part of my life when (again) love means something different (again).
Love is “being”.
Being does not change.
Because “I am” is being.
And “I am” is of this moment.
Only of THIS moment.
I am the sum of my parts, my genes, my history, my learning, my experiences, my successes and failures, my hope and ambitions, my relationships and communities, my self-esteem and my (changing) perceived “place in the world”. I am all of that. And my choices at any moment are of that “being”.
Even the absence of “stuff” is part of me.
The absence of safety, of unconditional love, of goodness, of kindness, of being loved. I know the absence of stuff – and by its absence can dream of its presence – its being.
And I am the sum of all that (even the I am I am not yet).
So love is neither either/or … EITHER physical doing OR emotional states (and was never a choice between EITHER faith OR deeds).
Love is “I am”.
And I am is me.
All of me.
All of the time.
I Am is of each moment.
An infinite eternity of now.
And therein comes the “unconditional”.
“Conditions” are of the past and future – the “What If” of living and decision-making. The decision-making of investment and reward. And that is not “love”. That is making choices (conditional upon this, that, and the other).
Love (without condition) lives in the eternity of now.
In the presence of I Am.
A presence that is eternal and as infinite as I am.
I Am is “being” …
And, for me, that is without sin and without qualified theology. It is without a scorecard. It is without transaction. It is meeting each moment without delegating it to my internal decision-making of investment and my reward.
It is meeting you in each moment devoid of transaction.
That is love.
And that is the “great stuff” I read in the bible. In a bible “in the moment” and devoid of transaction. A bible of love.
Not sin. Nor sin avoidance. Not anything “transactional”.
Because reading the bible that way – living life that way – loving self and others that way – it is all the same thing – my choice of “being”.