When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
~Henri J.M. Nouwen, Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life
I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
This is an idea that seems difficult for Westerners to accept: when someone harms us, they create the cause of their own suffering. They do this by strengthening habits that imprison them in a cycle of pain and confusion. It’s not that we are responsible for what someone else does, and certainly not that we should feel guilty. But when they harm us, we unintentionally become the means of their undoing. Had they looked on us with loving-kindness, however, we’d be the cause of their gathering virtue.
What I find helpful in this teaching is that what’s true for them is also true for me. The way I regard those who hurt me today will affect how I experience the world in the future. In any encounter, we have a choice: we can strengthen our resentment or our understanding and empathy. We can widen the gap between ourselves and others or lessen it.
~Pema Chodron, No Time To Lose
We have no reason to harbor any mistrust against our world, for it is not against us. If it has terrors, they are our terrors; if it has abysses, these abysses belong to us; if there are dangers, we must try to love them. And if only we arrange our life in accordance with the principle which tells us that we must always trust in the difficult, then what now appears to us as the most alien will become our most intimate and trusted experience. How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
A real love letter is made of insight, understanding, and compassion. Otherwise it’s not a love letter. A true love letter can produce a transformation in the other person, and therefore in the world. But before it produces a transformation in the other person, it has to produce a transformation within us. Some letters may take the whole of our lifetime to write.
~Thich Nhat Hanh, Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh: 365 days of practical, powerful teachings from the beloved Zen teacher
A life without love
is a waste.
“Should I look for
spiritual love, or material, or physical love?”
Don’t ask yourself this question.
Discrimination leads to discrimination.
Love doesn’t need any name,
category or definition.
Love is a world itself.
Either you are in, at the center…
or you are out,
~ Shams Tabrizi
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals, or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine and your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it. I want to know if you can be with JOY, mine or your own: if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human. Continue reading
…If you want to have loving feelings, do loving things. Period.
~Anne Lamott, Facebook post, 8/21/13
Love is the bridge between you and everything.
Waste no time arguing about what a good person should be. Be one.
In many parts of this world water is
Scarce and precious.
People sometimes have to walk
A great distance
Then carry heavy jugs upon their
Because of our wisdom, we will travel
Far for love.
All movement is a sign of
Most speaking really says
“I am hungry to know you.”
Every desire of your body is holy;
Every desire of your body is
Why wait until you are dying
To discover that divine
― Hafiz, The Subject Tonight Is Love: 60 Wild and Sweet Poems of Hafiz
If somebody were to cut me into a thousand pieces,
every piece of me would say that it loves…
The man who said this is a deeply spiritual person who is a native of South Africa. He like many others grew up under apartheid. He told me that he was taught by his ancestors not to stay bitter or vengeful, for hate eats up the heart, and with a damaged heart, life is not possible.
In a way, we are each confronted with the same dilemma that Chris faces: how to feel the pain of living without denying it and without letting that pain define us. Ultimately, no matter the burden we are given—apartheid, cancer, abuse, depression, addiction—once whittled to the bone, we are faced with a never-ending choice: to become the wound or to heal.
Terrible things are hard enough to experience the first time. Beyond their second and third and fourth experience as trauma, their impact can easily make us become terrible if we do not keep our want to love alive. Perhaps the most difficult challenge of being wounded is not turning our deepest loving nature over to the life and way of the wound.
This touching statement by this South African man affirms that the nature of the human spirit is irrepressible. Just as a vine or shrub—no matter how often it is cut back—will keep growing to the light, the human heart—no matter how often it is cut—can reassert its impulse to love.
~Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening