Dr Annah K Amani
I am quite certain the day I saw a faint red plus sign forming underneath the plastic window of an early pregnancy test, I inadvertently stumbled into one of those holes in the fabric of the space, time continuum. I was living this out of body experience within the walls of a mall bathroom stall. I entered this alternate life as my best friend was pounding on the stall door asking me to let her in, meanwhile someone is screaming, oh my God it is positive! Uuum wait a minute, feels like that sound is passing through my vocal cords.
Alright! Alright! I stop screaming and let her into the three foot space between the toilet seat and the stall door. Now we are both consulting the oracle of the early pregnancy test. The faint red plus is becoming a glaring red cross. I shake the pregnancy test again, just to be sure, red cross, shake it again, red cross, shake, shake, shake, red cross! Thus began my most transformative experience in love.
The Tao Te Ching, a central text in the Chinese Taoist tradition, opens with a sort of disclaimer. One translation of the first line states, The Tao that can be completely explained or expressed in words is not the constant, eternally unchanging and true Tao. Similarly, I believe it is so with love. It is impossible to capture in words the entirety of the perpetual force we call love.
1 John 4:16 …God is love, whoever lives in love, lives in God, and God in them.
Love in its divine nature is the core essence of God, it is the way God can be experienced by humanity. Time is a shared illusion, life is temporary, the earth and all within it is finite, only love is infinite, of all we know today only love can cross over into the unknown realm beyond this time, this life, this earth.
My life altering love experience of carrying, bearing and caring for my son, revealed to me deeper elements of love than I previously cared to ponder. It is no wonder God’s love is often described in nurturing parent terms. In caring for my infant son, I came to know a love that was giving, sacrificial, boundless, and eternal. I realized that I was not capable of such an immense love in my humanity but only through God.
Loving an infant of whom I had few expectations was the most powerful illustration of God’s love for me and it was only through God that I was capable of such love. Love for my son revealed to me how limited and expectation laden love in my other relations was. This divine experience with love released me spiritually and expanded my capacity to love. I learned that I viewed love as a reciprocal exchange rather than a divine energy that flows from God the creator through me to another divine creation. A well-known, often quoted scripture on love is worth contemplating here.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Only God can promise always and never. Love as expressed through our humanity does not realize these promises in full. By meditating on what God’s love promises for us, we can build the spiritual vitality to strive towards these promises in our human relations.
In my meditations on love, I came across illuminating Buddhist teachings on forms of love. The teachings asserted that forms of love marked by possessiveness, confusion, desire, need, fear are not love at all but expressions of inadequacy and bondage. One should cultivate forms of love marked by generosity, clarity, appreciation, joy, compassion and kindness.