He who learns must suffer, and, even in our sleep, pain that we cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God. - Aeschylus

Friday, January 1, 2016

At Year's End: The Triumph of Love

At the end of 2013, I wrote about the transformative power of discipline in my life over the course of the previous several years.  At the end of that piece, I suggested that the way forward lay in the cultivation of passionate love, a love which would burn in my heart so strongly that I would be able to serve others far more than ever before.

And over the course of the past two years, I truly have been able to serve others far more than ever before.  I have given more gifts to others.  I have quietly done more work to save others grief.  I have spent more time listening to others.  I have spent more time talking with others.  I have spent more time building up the confidence of others, encouraging others, and lifting the spirits of others.  I have spent more time loving God and loving His least brothers and sisters.

The only thing which looms larger in my vision than the triumph of love over these past two years is the amount of love I want to give, an amount of love which easily eclipses the love which I have poured out of my heart over the past two years, despite its immensity in comparison to the pitiful amount of love my heart was able to hold ten years ago.

I could focus on my next five year plan, now that I have reached the end of my previous five year plan.  In 2014, I graduated with my second degree, which was Phase 1 of my five year plan.  And shortly thereafter, I started work full time as an IT professional, which was Phase 2 of my five year plan.  And as of January 4th of this year, I will start my new position as an IT manager, which was Phase 3 of my five year plan.

I could also focus on paying off my student loans, which at the rate of payment I can now afford will be fully paid off in less than 3 years from the beginning of the repayment period.  Or I could focus on getting a modest used car to replace my poor, broken-down Valkyrie who has gone without numerous repairs because I could not afford to keep up with the costs of having air conditioning in the summer, heat in the winter, working shocks, working windows, a working fan, or a working CD player.

But my focus will remain on love.  I have discovered these past two years that when I fill my vision with love, then all my goals are reached far more quickly than I would have suspected, and my life is a much brighter light unto the path of others who seek to follow the ways of love.  And so my goal for the coming years is to grow closer to living out consistently the aspirations from my meditations on love during this past year.

Some say that love is all you need. I think that love is beyond need, that it is far greater than a mere meeter of needs, that it can radically tranform us so that our needs fall away as a chrysalis falls away from a butterfly.
Love can only enter our hearts to the extent that we make room for it by letting go of the pain we have been harboring in our hearts.
If our hearts must break, then let them break because the walls of our heart cannot contain the force of our love for others, our love bursting forth and flooding the world with the radical self-gift of true compassion.
Loving relationships transcend the individuals who participate in them, but not by extinguishing them as individuals; relationships of love gradually transform us by a process of removing the dark shrouds of the ego in which we are enveloped so that the light of our individual gifts can shine most brightly in the perfect freedom of loving service to others.
Love does not hide the grandest gifts in our lives so that no one can see them; love shares fearlessly all the good things it finds with the beloved so that life’s joys are doubly enjoyed, first by the beloved and then by the person who loves.
Love is rightly a personal choice, a decision to will the good of another person and act to further their good. And in our acts of love toward the person we love, our capacity to love is built up by the personal encounter as we sacrifice self-indulgence to build up the other person. What is more, the love which grows between us and other persons is a partaker in Love, the person whom of its own power deepens our own capacity to love as we grow in relationship with it. In this way, the lover, the beloved, and their love are a trinity, an icon of the divine life of ever-growing love exemplified by the Holy Trinity.

May I be an icon showing forth the love of God more and more often in the years to come, my heart growing as it bursts with love beyond what it can now hold.  Love has triumphed, and I pray that it would triumph over my selfishness in each moment of each day of this next year.

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