My Dearest Rebekah,
Here is the letter I’ve been promising to write you, all about Love. It’s a love story and we’re part of it, but it’s not really our story. It’s bigger than that. Much, much bigger.
We’ve been taught since our childhood that love is something to fear, to guard against. We’ve seen its destructive power in our family and in our hearts. It has lead to pain and loss. It’s taken our breath away and swallowed us whole, not leaving much of us left when it’s through. It’s been the cause for anger, tears, and exhaustion. We’ve learned to fear ever opening our hearts to anyone again, preferring not to expose ourselves to the possibility of its self-destructiveness. We’ve tried to become the opposite of vulnerable, weak, and powerless.
Boti Falls, Ghana 2014
But here is what’s important, “Perfect love casts out fear.” There’s a great trickery blinding the hearts of men and women alike, convincing them that love has something to do with control. We’ve been misled into thinking it’s something we have to hang onto and fight for in order not to lose it. We’ve been told to suppress its force within us before it leaves a gaping hole in our chest. “Love is a battlefield,” we’ve shouted at the top of our lungs, vowing to never be taken as prisoners of war ever again.
“What if the point of life has nothing to do with the creation of an ever-expanding region of control? What if the point is not to keep at bay all those people, beings, objects and emotions that we so needlessly fear? What if the point instead is to let go of that control? What if the point all along has been to get along, to relate, to experience things on their own terms? What if the point is to feel joy when joyous, love when loving, anger when angry, thoughtful when full of thought? What if the point from the beginning has been to simply be?” -Derrick Jensen
At a certain point, fear and love became inseparable to us. We began to fear loving something or someone too much, and fearing not being loved in return. I think we made this mistake because Love and Fear are the only two forces in life. That’s the secret of the Universe. There is no insecurity, hope, failure, or joy. Only Love and Fear. Everything goes back to one or the other. Every emotion, feeling, action, and thought are derivatives of either Love or Fear.
Flamenco dancers in Barcelona, Spain 2013
These forces are what all of life returns to and revolves around. They are how the most powerful and influential people have impacted the world, from Napoleon to Mother Theresa. They are so strong we’ve forgotten how to name them. So we come up with all of these other explanations for how to understand and live life. We study politics and happiness and buy books on how to conquer our insecurities instead of realizing where it all comes from. We seek fulfillment in our careers and other human beings instead of just being loved, fearing it’s too great a burden to bear. It’s no wonder we’re so confused!
Fear is powerful. It’s become the only force we know with a sickening intimacy. Yet, “perfect love casts out fear.” Love wins. Every single time. Perfect love, unconditional love, unfailing love.
“Love is patient, and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through all circumstance. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
So I think this means every action, thought, and decision has to be based on love. This is the ancient language older than words, that all living things understand. It’s the way our souls communicate to each other. It’s what feeds our intuition and causes our heart to beat as our lungs fill with air.
“The boy was beginning to understand that intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected, and we are able to know everything, because it’s all written there.” -The Alchemist
We can allow the current of Love to direct our path, but we have a choice. Love is what gives us that choice. We can choose fear, instead. We can build walls around our heart, we can lock it in a cage and listen to fear’s threats of lack or suffering. We can choose greed, control, manipulation, and distrust.
We can squeeze love so tightly that we end up suffocating it. We can shrivel our souls until it no longer hears the quiet whisper of hope. We can let impatience and selfishness poison the very force that gave us life. We can let fear remain the only cry of our heart, pretending to love us and have our back but constantly drowning us with doubt, instead of setting us free to fly with wings of Grace.
I guess the easiest way to know which force resides within you is to look at the overflow of your heart. Are you feeling guilt, bitterness, or shame? Then it’s probably Fear, ruling your life with lies. Are you feeling satisfied, whole, happy, or at peace? That’s Love.
“But my heart is agitated,” the boy said.
“Well, that’s good. Your heart is alive. Keep listening to what it has to say.”
“My heart is a traitor,” the boy said to the alchemist. “It doesn’t want me to go on.”
“That makes sense,” the alchemist answered. “Naturally, it’s afraid that, in pursuing your dream, you might lose everything you’ve won.”
“Well then, why should I listen to my heart?”
“Because you will never again be able to keep it quiet. Even if you pretend not to have heard what it tells you, it will always be there inside you, repeating to you what you’re thinking about life and about the world.”
“You mean I should listen, even if it’s treasonous?”
“Treason is a blow that comes unexpectedly. If you know your heart well, it will never be able to do that to you. Because you’ll know its dreams and wishes, and will know how to deal with them. Before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dream, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up.” -The Alchemist
If you’re afraid Love has run out or run dry, (another one of Fear’s dirty lies), remember that you were created by Love, to love and be loved. As long as you have life, you have Love inside of you and it can never run out. There’s always enough.
Fear, on the other hand, is a human invention. It works by intimidation. Whenever this force is trying its best to destroy you, go back to the Source of Love, the language of Life. Learn this language and write it on your heart. Speak it out loud whenever the ghosts of fear haunt you in the night. Figure out what you love, and who you love, and who loves you. If you’re not sure, begin with yourself. Practice loving yourself unconditionally. Let love protect and claim you as its own, not by force but by choice. Live loved. All else will unfold.
“This is real love-not that we loved God, but that he loved us…God is Love and all who live in love live in God and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” 1 John 4:13-18