One of my favorite quotes – and one which is a guidepost for me – was written by Rumi (with whom I share a birthday, 750 years apart).
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
Most of us might say to ourselves or others, “I don’t have any barriers to love within me!” I’m quite sure I said the same many years ago when I first came upon this quote. However, I am reminded when I hear others making disparaging remarks, e.g., judgments about those who may be different (without knowing anything about them), that fear and hate are deeply unconscious. The words we say and the thoughts we think can seem far louder than any words we speak about our love for someone.
If we are truly honest, we might admit to having spent time and energy at some point judging ourselves harshly and then, no doubt, offering some of those same judgments about others, even if we did not speak them aloud. Do you see what is hidden there? Our self-judgments projected onto others – as unconscious fear.
Being or becoming conscious of love isn’t as easy at it may seem. Children find this easy – as it is their first nature until they are taught otherwise by the experiences of their outer world. Our healing of our second nature or learned habits is essentially what I feel Rumi is speaking of in the quote above. And then, I recently read the quote below by Fr. Richard Rohr and it all came together so beautifully.
The words “conscious love” ring true for me as a definition for our life’s purpose and the goal of all spirituality. When we’re conscious, we will always do the loving thing, the connecting thing, the intimate thing, the communion thing, the aware thing. To do the unloving thing is always to somehow be unconscious at that moment.
-Fr. Richard Rohr
Realizing that we have second nature wounds which comprise the deep well of our fear, anger, judgments and negativity, is an important early step in beginning to remove the barriers to love within us. Doing so is also essential to living an authentic and more peaceful life. And as Fr. Rohr reminds us, it is conscious love which is our life’s purpose. Everything that we are, that we do, that we choose, flows from that place. We are love…because we come from love.
Finally, I am reminded by so much of what I’ve learned on my journey thus far, that the work of uncovering and seeing and feeling deep wounds is not easy. In fact, it takes courage – to start; to stay with it, especially when it becomes harder to do; and to honestly claim that you see and feel lighter as you trudge through yet one more dark night of the soul. Brene Brown has offered so much to us through her extensive research and her stories, as told in all of her books. My favorite is one of her early books, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. I end this post with a quote from that book, which can serve as an early roadmap to making that all important trip back to our first nature (conscious love) as we heal and release our second nature (unconscious fear).
“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are. Choosing authenticity means cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable; exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle; and nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough. Authenticity demands Wholehearted living and loving—even when it’s hard, even when we’re wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough, and especially when the joy is so intense that we’re afraid to let ourselves feel it. Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.”
– Brene Brown
*This is a photo of a drawing by one of my grandsons more than a few years ago.