Posts Tagged ‘how to love’

Yesterday we celebrated my daughter Roz’s thirty-second birthday. I thought it might be painful. It wasn’t. I thought it might remind me of her losses — the lifelong loss of normalcy, of ability and of opportunity that have fallen to her and our family because of her developmental disabilities. It didn’t.

The party conjured no sad feelings; it brought up no regrets. Instead it was a delightful affair with a delightful group of her long-time friends, all who have disabilities, all who are amazing, fun, loving people.

Eleven of Roz’s friends came, and when each new one entered the house they were greeted by the rest with warmth, enthusiasm and great affection. It was markedly different  than parties where everyone is “normal.” This party was more demonstrative; they were more excited to see each other and it was more fun. They pointed more, laughed more and definitely hugged each other more than you see at most such events.

They ate pizza, gobbled brownies, scooped ice cream and opened presents together — a circle of friends, around the table, then on the floor,  practically levitated by kindness up into the living room air. One of the girls read Roz’s cards to her. It was a touching moment, one friend caring for another without even a pause for judgment or for surprise or analysis. Not being able to read is no big deal to this group, most of them can’t, it doesn’t matter, they don’t judge.

What is a good life? Is it being smart? Does one have to be beautiful? Is wealth required? Must one rise above the others, control the room, star on the stage?

Nope.

One must simply love and be loved.

I love you.

Will you accept that, no ducking, no side stepping, no avoidance, no over thinking it, no cynicism —  and love me back?

You are one of my readers; this gives us a connection.

It’s not perfect, adequate, even exemplary, but it’s something, and it’s good.

The other day I hugged a friend, warmly, a little longer than usual. I said, “I love you.” I meant it. It was simple but good.  I greeted another with enthusiasm and asked him to go to coffee to discuss a book we have both read. Another sweet one I complimented and told this, “You are  precious cargo, of inestimable value.” That was my daughter.

What the heck? It is good, to warm up the planet, in healthy ways,  by offering endearments, loving family and friends, expressing our affection simply.

This is the thing — and we all have such a hard time of it — crossing over to each other, being warm, personable, gracious, expressing love, just saying it.

A friend called me today from the East Coast. He is a tough guy, military, big — but funny, and easy to relate to.  In an asside he said he thought there were piece of me all over the world, the people I have previously connected with.

Interesting. When he hung up he said, “I love you.”

I thought about it —  in Japan, South Africa, Nicargaua, England, Brazil, Maine, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, California — there are people who I have interacted with, with warmth, even if only briefly and so they are a small part of me, and me of them.

I wish there were more. I wish we all were open to more friends, more warmth, more connection, more talk, more love.

Hear is the deal: I need love, I want love, I crave love — we all do. And yet we all — including myself — suffer from some forms of isolationism, some vaious and sundry fears of each other, some relational cynicisms, some intrinsic shynesses and thus some cautiousness, some coldness, and therefore some lonliness.

What to do?

Love more. Simply choose to love more.

We can do this. We can reach out to each other. We can even get over our tendency to withdraw, to be cool, to be cold, in part, by making brave choices to love more people openly, freely, warmly,  affectionately.

While some old lovers cannot be regained, we can always seek out and find new friends — precious ones waiting in the wings — and we can tell them if we will, “I love you.”

This will warm up the place.

 

The ranking is bronze, silver — gold.

And it is also faith, hope — love.

Not much beats gold, or love, as precious.

Love is the pure gold of God, and the summum bonum of life.

Many are the witnesses that love is supreme, and that without it we “gain nothing.” Love is everything — the core, the essence, the apex, the thing! All of our lives most of us have never wanted anything more than we have wanted to be loved. We ache for love, for falling in love, for being the loved one, for more delicious, life-giving, energy-making, life-curing love.

How do we get it?

Consider a young girl living in Missouri, who has never seen visited the ocean, any ocean, anywhere. She finds a picture of San Diego online. It is a beautiful shot, taken from the Coronado Bay bridge, showing the bay, the palm trees, the Silver Strand, the gorgeous Hotel Del Coronado and the great, sparkling Pacific beyond.

She holds her tablet, her 9.4 by 6.6 inch digital ocean in her hands and gushes, “I love the ocean!”

But there is so much of the ocean that she doesn’t know to love.

She doesn’t  know the knock-you-out, corner-of-eye to corner-of-eye,  panoramic expanse of the great Pacific, the lovely, blue watery arms of San Diego that shimmer like a dream land before you as you drive west up over the Coronado Bay bridge. And she doesn’t know the briny, salty, sea-in-the-air fragrance that greets you at the beach. And she doesn’t know the soft, clean, warm sand between the toes. She doesn’t know the cold, wet shock of the Pacific ocean as you enter it. She doesn’’t know the thrilling ride down the wave —  the rapid rush, the surfy slosh, the white water engulfing you.

To understand the ocean, and to understand love, we must live these realities not simply admire them from afar. To get love we must drive toward and into other people, and also God. We must experience the other, we must experience God, and we must sink our toes deep in to love, and then run to it’s shore, and dive in head first.

Reading about love in a book, even a sacred book, may be a gesture toward love, but it is no more love than looking at a picture of the ocean is experiencing the ocean.

To really know love, to experience love, to know the panoramic reality of love in all of life, to know the sweet fragrance of love found in difficult relationships, to know the warmth of love between your toes when you have been deeply valued, to know the cold shock of love being so much other than what you expected, to know the rapid rush of love as it washes you down the sloping, sliding, thrilling, scary waves of other people —  that is what it means to know love, and that is what it means to know God.

Love is good. Love is better. It is best. Love is best.

So, run at this. Smack this. Jump on this. Dive head-long into this.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

 

 

 

Randy HasperI didn’t see Carlos hit the old man, but he did, hard, right up side of the head, with his fist, and the old man bled just above his right eye.

When I went over to check things out, Carlos was looking dour. I could see that the world had gone down hard for him. Larry, who knows Carlos, told me that Carlos is homeless, living in his car and scrounging for every bite.

Carlos denied hitting anyone.  Then my friend John spoke up and said, “I saw you hit him,” and pointed to the old man.  But Carlos wasn’t to be pinned down, and seeing that his lie didn’t work, he said to all of us menacingly, “What I do in my family is none of your business!”

Tiffany, standing on the sidelines, spoke up, “I know about abuse, and it isn’t okay.”

I took my cue her. “We’re not okay with abuse and with violence at the church,” I said. I wasn’t sure what Carlos would do next, but whatever the outcome, I was acutely aware that the whole thing was brutal and sad, for the whole lot of us, standing there.

Then I told Carlos, “I don’t mean to disrespect you, but you need to leave,” and he did. I then turned to the old guy who got hit. “It’s nothing he said.”

“No, it’s not nothing,” I said. “It was wrong for him to hit you like that? Why did he do it?”

“He’s just like that,” he said.

I went and got some medical supplies and I wiped the guy’s cut, and I  put a bandage on him. It was only then that I noticed that he was shaking. He had played in cool, out of fear, at first, but now that the threat was gone I could see how horribly upset he was. He too was homeless. He told me that he was afraid that now Carlos would come get him. I suggested he move his camp. Then we fed him dinner, in the basement of the church, along with the hundreds of others who came for the meal.

Three times the guy who was hit came back to me before he left, and he thanked me for caring for him for standing up for him.

Then I got a plate of hot mashed potatoes and gravy and sat down with some older Hispanic ladies who lived near by in the Congregational Towers. They were super cute, and friendly with my daughter, who tried out some of her Spanish on them.

The food was exquisite, and the company too, except for Carlos, but he just needed a boundary drawn, and maybe he needed that more than a meal.

A grandma told me that recently when her granddaughter was at her house, and the little girl was jumping on the couch. she told her, “Please don’t do that.”

The granddaughter said, “No.”

So grandma said back to her, “I’m not asking you, I’m telling you.” That settled that. Another boundary drawn, and so we civilize the world, protect our couches and our heads.

A little while later, the granddaughter asked for something and the grandma said, “No.”

The little one, two or three looked at her grandma, thought a moment, and said, “I not asking you; I telling you.” Grandma told me that she really had to try hard then, to keep from laughing.

We all need more, more boundaries, and more love too. Maybe no one told Carlos “No” enough when he was little. Maybe they told him too much.

On Sunday, Angelina came up to me. She put out her arms and gave me a hug.  She’s five.  Pretty soon she was back for another hug. I picked her up and gave her a big squeeze. I love Angelina. She looks like a little fire plug. Last year I sponsored her for Christmas and bought her a polka-dotted dress and a sketch a doodle. We’re good together.  She came back for a final hug before the morning was over.

Alex also came up to see me after church.  Alex is in his twenties. He has a learning disability.  “I’m getting baptized,” he told me proudly. Alex  has found a place, and some people, in our church, to make a little bit of a family out of, and be loved.

At the end of the morning Elizabeth came by. She too wanted a hug, and took three. Elizabeth is about fifty and learning how to make it on her own for the first time in life. She handed me a letter. “I just need to tell you how I’ m feeling she said, “I’m doing much better.”

We need more, more protection, more acceptance, more of a sense of belonging, more affirmation, someone to hug us, someone to read our letters, more love.

I wonder how Carlos is doing today?  What does he need? What put all that hate in him? What could take it out?  Not punishment. Not prison. Not rejection? Not religion.

I think that he just might need what we all need, more love.

Love  is idiosyncratic.

We  each  experience  love uniquely, filtering it through our personal backgrounds, personalities and experiences.  In this domain, don’t bother with generics.

One person feels loved when they are given a gift that perfectly fits an interest they have. For them, that’s love.  Another  feels deeply loved by a  snuggly hug, another by being close but not touching. Another feels most loved by being listened to as they share the trivia of their day, another by being allowed to talk about ideas, another by having a purring cat sleep on their lap, another by being allowed to watch a local football game with friends, another by being encouraged to go to the beach and walk with girl friends.

Love is ideolectic, which means it is articulated in the language of the individual, not the group. It is found in nick names and private endearments and familial neologisms and  goofy redefinitions. It resides in family jokes, favorite foods and funny family stories, a language invented by people with the same reality even if they don’t have the same last name.

When we cannot experience love, the dysfunctions behind our attachment disorders are often idiopathic, unknown or at least unrecognized by us.  An angry father, a perpetually drunk mother, a childhood illness, a traumatic divorce,  a disabling shyness — we may have some idea as to our love disability, but often we are not quite sure as to its precise etiology. We may brood, “Why can’t I seem to connect well with people, bond, enter into love the way I see that others do?” We often don’t know precisely why; perhaps we never will. Love’s dysfunctions are complex, but we do not have to understand them completely to  love.

To whatever degree we can give or receive love, we should; it is a gift and a thrill. Love  is the essence of mental health and the core of happiness. Love is so essential that it should be made the highest priority of life. We should go all out to love the people we live with idiosyncratically, in the ways in which  they want and need to be loved. We should gently, kindly, patiently and continuously customize our love for our spouses and boyfriends and kids and best friends.

If we do everything else but don’t do love, we have done absolutely nothing. Love is first, best, highest and most supreme. Do not miss making this your primary mission in every second of every day for the rest of your life.

Let quirky, personalized, specialized, custom-fitted love rule.