Apr 16, 2012
How Do I Love?
All of us understand the basics of love – patience, kindness, gentleness, etc. Even those of us who never had the privilege of experiencing true love as children (or even as adults) know in our hearts what love entails. Today I am pondering what it means for ME to love others. How does Aimee love? I’ve been told many times what the manifestations of love look like, but is it truly 'love' in my own heart if I am merely repeating the actions of others? I am considering the difference between ‘program love’ and ‘spontaneous love’. Hands down, I prefer the latter.
A couple of weeks ago we had a staff meeting at work. The boss had ordered Chinese food and there was a lot of food left over when we were finished. I am a bit of a conservationist so I couldn’t bear to see it all thrown out. Since I was leaving after the meeting I thought I’d take the leftovers to some homeless folks so that it would at least be eaten. I decided to go down to a park in downtown Phoenix where a lot of homeless folks hang out and see who I could give the food to. I parked, picked up the box of leftovers and started walking toward the courtyard area of the park. Immediately, a group of guys in their 20’s eyeballed me and saw that I was bringing goodies. I walked up to them and showed them what I had. It brought me so much joy to see how happy and grateful they were to have something to eat. I found out they had traveled here from California and were playing a show at a bar venue in Scottsdale later that night. After talking with them for a few minutes, we said goodbye and I walked away feeling so moved by their friendliness. I wished I had more to give them so I decided to make a food run and bring them back some more. I did not tell them I was going to do this, so I was hoping they were still there when I came back. When I returned I noticed that they had left so I decided to just give it away to other folks who were hanging out in the park.
While giving away the rest of the food, I realized that this was not nearly as fulfilling as running into the 20-somethings and watching the happiness on their faces as we met and connected together. I realized that a piece of me was trying to recapture that beautiful feeling I experienced a half- hour ago by repeating the same act of service. It was a bit frustrating, though humorous at the same time as I tried to recapture a ‘moment’. Some moments are so precious and unique, that they are not worth repeating. On a grander scale, do I WANT to be a part of a program that feeds the homeless on a regular basis? Probably not, as it might turn in to ‘program love’ (which tends to be ‘works based’) instead of ‘spontaneous love’ (which comes straight from the gut).
When I look back on the life of Jesus, I don’t believe he ever had ‘program’ in mind when he connected with people, but possessed warmth and compassion for those he happened to encounter. This is the beauty of spontaneous love. Today I saw a couple of homeless men standing out on the sidewalk as I drove down the street toward my house. I felt an immediate compassion for them so I decided to be vulnerable and go back and see if they needed anything (very rarely do I do things like this, so I am not claiming to be Mother Theresa or anything). I talked with them for a minute, got them some food from the corner store and loved on them for a minute. As I went to shake one of the guy’s hands, he was hesitant and stated that his hands were dirty. I told him I didn’t mind. They saw the love in my face and thanked me for the food.
I again left feeling so warm inside and felt like I had truly encountered the spirit of humanity within these precious men. And I again walked away wondering if I could do more. As I was pondering the beauty of what just took place, I realized that this was a special moment that I was not to try and manufacture. I guess I could easily chase this fulfillment by choosing to do these kinds of things on a habitual basis. But I don’t want to. Otherwise, it might not be as amazing. Though both of these examples involve giving food to those in need, in no way do I think my ability to love is packaged up in this particular act. My ability to love creatively and spontaneously is something that can be woven throughout my day and will likely have nothing to do with ‘feeding the homeless’. This spontaneous love is not merely an ‘act’, as much as it is an overflow to another from the love I experience from Spirit, myself and others. It is ‘impromptu’. And that is what makes it beautiful. It is quiet, unobtrusive and can touch the very soul of another in the simplest of ways.
My ability to connect with humanity in even the smallest of ways ushers in the truth of the Kingdom…and this Kingdom is built on patience, kindness, gentleness, grace, compassion, understanding, strength, connection, etc. Though this is the case, it may never look the same from day to day and will not look the same from person to person. I am excited to continue pondering the question, ‘How does Aimee love?’ And I know that because it is a simple overflow from the heart and not something that is merely ‘action-based’ (but at the same time, ‘creative’), I know that I can look forward to what takes place as I continue to open my heart to the prospect.
by Aimee Dassele
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