Friday, June 21, 2013

"The purpose of Love..."

"I believe
there's a love
deep as it is wide..."

In case you were worried that I'd run out of songs -- from Amy Grant's new CD, How Mercy Looks from Here to inspire me -- you can put those concerns to rest. Her "Deep as it is Wide," with Sheryl Crow and Eric Paslay, is the perfect keynote for this post.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. This post doesn't start with a song. It starts with a statement Mary Baker Eddy makes in her definition of the word/name "Abraham" from the Glossary in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

"the purpose of Love
to create trust in good..."

The first time I read it, it stopped me in my tracks. Here was a buried treasure, a profound gift. Here was a filter for giving clear purpose to every thought and action. Here was guidance for how to live a life that was truly Love-impelled and Love-governed rather than self-absorbed.

I could ask myself: Are my actions going to encourage trust in the presence and power of God, good? Is our intent in this relationship to forward and broaden a more radical trust in good?   Was I willing to let love have no other purpose?

This filter has been particularly helpful in navigating the sometimes murky backwaters of self-will, self-justification, and self-love -- which often parade as something more noble.  I can't tell you how many times I've been pulled back from the ego's undertow by this simple purpose statement.

Whether it comes as emotional sympathy in the midst of another's crisis, or the desire to be recognized for an act of generosity, this statement has often been just the urging I needed to rethink my motives and adjust my actions accordingly.

One way that Eddy offers further guidance and gives direction to our affections, is in her article, simply-titled "Love," from Miscellaneous Writings 1883 - 1896:

"it is the tender, unselfish deed
done in secret;
the silent, ceaseless prayer;
the self-forgetful heart
that overflows;
the veiled form
stealing on an errand of mercy,
out of a side door..."

What strikes me about this statement, is the total lack of self-conscious "what's in it for me," on the part of the giver.

It's not always easy to detect the ego's ruse. Sometimes it will twist us about. We think we are being completely selfless in our altruism -- our generosity, our service to others -- and then someone forgets to say "thank you" or doesn't reciprocate in kind, and we've lost our wind. We begin questioning the wisdom of our actions or, more sadly, their deserving. That's when the power of this statement comes in. It becomes a simple compass for finding our way through the murky waters of self.

I am learning that when our motives are aligned with Love's purpose -- to create trust in good -- it somehow ceases to matter whether anyone even knows we were "there." The only thing that matters becomes an ever-deepened, constantly widening trust in good. This is Love's purpose for each of us -- to love. To radiate this kind of radical, practical, effective, trust-engendering love.



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