Because of Love

“In this vision he showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, and it
was round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and
thought “What may this be?” And it was generally answered thus: “It is all that is
made.” I marveled how it might last, for it seemed it might suddenly have
sunk into nothing because of its littleness. And I was answered in my
understanding: “It lasts and ever shall, because God loves it.”

— Julian of Norwich

Why does evolution continue?  Why does the universe expand?  Why does the sun appear on the horizon every morning?  Why am I here?

Who do I thank?

11 thoughts on “Because of Love

    • I found that shell at Pike Lake beach on Sunday. There were folks out ice fishing on the middle of the lake even though it was 40 degrees. That made me nervous! It’s a spring fed lake, so certain places on the shore don’t freeze. That’s where I spotted the wee little shell. For some reason, I found it kind of odd to find a shell and a beach and snow in the same locale. I still tend to think in boxes. It’s in my pocket as a reminder to think outside of those.

  1. Well, once again, what you’ve written beautifully summarizes my religious views.
    As I get older, my belief in the centrality of Love for everything in the world gets stronger. What started driving that point home for me was a conversation I had with a classmate 3 years ago. (I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but about 6 years ago I got a revelation from God that I should go to medical school and spend the rest of my life being a physician. I’m a 4th year medical student right now.) We were discussing why we keep cats as pets while breeding, hoarding and eating pigs, even though pigs are more intelligent etc. than cats. I feel that it is essentially our decision to love cats, and withdraw our love of pigs, that brings this about. Our love lends cats the dignity and meaning to be cherished instead of eaten or exterminated. Although I hated the book when I first read it, I now live my life following the philosophy of The Velveteen Rabbit. God “loves us real.” When theologians talk about Christ calling us to participate in God’s creative acts, I believe that is a call to “love people real.” To change the status of every person from a pig to be used or consumed into a cute little kitty cat to be loved, cherished or, as with real cats, exasperatedly tolerated.

  2. What I don’t like about the Velveteen Rabbit is sentimentality. When I think of the Love that holds the universe together, it isn’t about attachment love. Attachment love is about me, about what I like and imagine is good about something else. A basic principle in Buddhist thought is that attachment leads to suffering. It hurts to have those attachments messed with. So we choose what to get attached to and what not to. I’m trying to see what an expanded view of Love would be that includes cats and pigs and microbes and earthquakes and radiation but doesn’t keep them in categories, allowing them to change and evolve and perhaps be eaten or exterminated. Love that is bigger than cherishing, tolerating and dignifying, love that is wider and more open than any description that I can attach…that’s what I think holds the Universe together. I am not finding this expansion easy. I grew quite attached to the man who loved me completely and sentimentally for 30 years. And it has caused suffering. But it’s hard to give up. I’d like to learn to love people (and everything in the universe) real without attachment. Still working on that…

    • Hi Priscilla! Just wanted to let you know that I thought a LOT about your response. I say this so you know that you’re not just sending your words fecklessly into the ether.

      I was prepared to spray out my thoughts like an up-ended box of 1000 bouncing ping-pong balls all over your blog, with references to Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, sermons of Buddha, modern concepts of developmental psych blah blah etc.

      All I want to say is that you and Jim got to build and experience something extraordinary with your relationship and family. Extraordinary. Honestly, if I could have even 5 years of being Wesley and Buttercup with another woman, I would consider THAT the most meaningful and beautiful thing I’d ever done, more than my years of teaching or even being a doctor. And it would be tough for me not to completely re-evaluate a God and a universe that would destroy something so obviously consistent with that God’s plans for the world. It would be like when Beethoven lost his hearing, or von Neumann got brain cancer and lost the ability to do math. It would take about 100 years of that Buddhist, “I am not my body. I am not my feelings. I am not my thoughts” meditation to get beyond my feelings of pain and lack of acceptance.

      As usual, thank you so much Priscilla for sharing your thoughts and wisdom.

  3. I wonder what it is you’re not saying, Lance. I don’t really think that God destroyed what I had with Jim. He got sick and died, that’s all. I suppose I was angry at God for a while, and I did re-evaluate that way of thinking that gives God ultimate blame and credit for what happens in the universe. I do think that thinking is anthropocentric, assuming an Agent in the working of the world when that may be only a human construct. The idea of conditions “arising” rather than being part of “God’s plans for the world” is new for me, but it seems like a more logical platform from which to start. And maybe that’s what your ping-pong balls were going to drop over. Go ahead, tell me what you want to say, either here or in an e-mail. I honestly want to engage in discussion about this because I think it’s very important to keep working through. I know for a fact I’m not done yet!

  4. I’m performing what’s known on the internets as thread-necromancy to ask more about what you mean by love without attachment :D. Maybe I’m pretty entrenched in my sentimentalist worldview (I did grow up owning both a lavishly illustrated copy of the Velveteen Rabbit and my own little stuffed bunny), but it seems to me that if I’m not willing to attach and risk suffering I’m not engaged enough to do a very good job of love, either. The Magnetic Fields put it in an infinitely more sad-emo-kid way in one of their songs: “If you don’t cry, it isn’t love/ if you don’t cry, then you just don’t feel it deep enough.” Right now I’m struggling to trust that it’s worthwhile to risk entering into deep relationship, having watched you and dad and knowing that all my First Mate’s and my good work of life-building could be undone by death or illness at any point. Unless I choose to believe that I’d be a poorer person leading a more trivial life if I didn’t get past that fear and invest my whole heart into something anyway, I’ll just sort of slide by along the surface, detached rather than unattached.

    • It’s a tricky concept, non-attachment. It’s not the same as detachment. A simple way to put it might be to say that attachment and detachment are ego-based. You put your ego into attachment and you withhold your ego when you’re detached, but non-attachment is not about your ego either way. Question is, without engaging your ego, do you feel deeply? I think you can. It’s a wide-open, agape, compassionate expansion that does invest your whole heart…but not your ego. That’s what I’ve heard, anyway. Experiencing it is fleeting. One more point: your good work of life-building and love-building will not be undone by death or illness, yours or your partner’s. Trust me on this. It goes deep within and holds you together like the heartwood of a tree. It may return to the earth in time, but it is not “undone”. Had a lovely visit with your dad in my dreams last night. The heartwood is still there.

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