Looking at love

My dear friends...

And here we are, the week before Valentine's Day...

A good time to talk about love, yes?

What a wonderful experience love is! (All love, of course...but I am talking here about romantic love in particular.) Yet so many people (myself included) have had a tough, tough time with relationships and romantic love. In my own life there has been lots of hurt involved, lots of learning, lots of sadness and challenge. I wish it all could have been easier. I wish I hadn't hurt so many others. I wish I had been more clear much earlier in my life.

I am only just now understanding so much of what I need to know about romantic relationships, about life partnerships, about this kind of love. (Eros, they call it. There is filial piety, or family love. There is agape, or deep-friendship love. And there is eros, or erotic love.)

All I know is, whatever you call it, it's tough on the heart. Unless it's not. All my life it has been - and most of my life it has been rough for others as well: those who have been in relationship with me. That is because I am convinced that this is because I, like so many people, entered into most of the relationships in my life for the "wrong reasons." I entered them in order to fill my needs...or what I perceived to be my needs. And when those needs were not fulfilled I became unhappy. And when I became unhappy I began looking somewhere else - and my relationships ended.

Or, they were ended for me. 

I've come now to a new understanding of relationships and love. I have come to an awareness that love has nothing to do with "need fulfillment." Actually, I've known this for a long time...but I'm not sure I knew how to put that into practice. Now, at last, I believe I do.

All I want to do now, for the rest of my life, is the very, very best I can at loving others - those close to me, and those farther away. And, of course, I must start all this with loving myself.

The end of my using love relationships for "need fulfillment" came when I understood at last that I have no needs. There is nothing that I need to survive, because my "survival" is not, and never has been, at stake. Even if I were to leave my physical body tomorrow, I will continue to survive. I will continue to exist. I will continue on my journey, filled with peace and joy and love. The happiness that I will experience will be boundless and indescribable.

Knowing this makes all the difference in the world IN the world! Now I am learning to be "in this world, but not of it." And as that becomes my more-often-than-not mode of being, I find that I am able to separate "love" from "need" in my experience of others. This allows me to love them more, in every way.

I am more "tuned in" than ever before to my soul and my heart and my mind - and to the soul-heart-mind of those I love. And yes, of all people. For I am coming to truly love all people. We are all here just trying our best to get through, to make some sense of it, to understand, to find a belief that works for us and to live that belief. We are all trying to make it, and then to get back Home.

We all have our faults and our foibles, our ups and our downs, our good points and our bad, our glorious aspects and our not-so-wonderful personality traits. And I the eyes of God, we are all - ALL of us - totally and completely and absolutely lovable, and perfect in our so-called "imperfection."

I was writing about love in romantic relationships this week in the Reader's Forum on my personal website. You may have missed what I posted there, so I thought I'd include it here, in this Letter for the Weekly Bulletin. (If you already read this, please forgive me...but the thoughts were so clear for me that I just wanted to share them with any who may have missed them...because I think this is part of how real love is experienced...)

What I said in that post is...All Love is Art. It is God's Art, in its finest form. Art is our most sacred and deep experience of life, unabashedly shared. All Art serves as either a Reminder or an Inspiration. It either reminds us of something magnificent, or it inspires us to create or produce or experience something magnificent. Love -- God's Highest Art -- does that most profoundly, I have found, in the Otherhood.

If you are in the Otherhood chances are that you can look at your loved one and say, "I love you minute-to-minute and not only moment-to-moment." Then you know you have a relationship that can last.

What I call "Moment Love" is a love that is real, but seems to be built upon our experience of special moments: How it feels when you are making love; what it's like to be walking side-by-side through the snow to a church service on Christmas Eve; the special glow of dinner and wine...

What I call "Minute-to-Minute Love" is a love that is real, but seems to be built upon our experience of every minute: How it feels to wake up with that person on a Monday morning; the fun of just grabbing soup and a salad or a quick turkey sandwich; standing in front of the bathroom mirror together and seeing your Beloved's reflection and realizing you're smiling inside...

I like this minute-to-minute love that people sometimes have -- although I experience that it is very rare. It's about reaching across the front seat while you're driving somewhere and just squeezing a leg or holding hands. Holding HANDS while DRIVING, folks! Now that's when you know you're in love "for real."

It's about making breakfast together on a lazy Sunday morning and not being able to keep your hands off each other's body parts; picking out colors together at the paint store and giggling all the way through it; watching a movie together and reacting the same way in the same places; finding it strangely exciting to work together cleaning up the house or clearing out the closet or tackling the storage bin or sitting on the carpet assembling the corner hutch that you bought on the Internet and just came in boxes and pieces and you have to figure out how to put the gosh-darned thing together...

It's about jumping in the tub together with some wine and cheese; talking until three in the morning about nothing; chuckling at each other's habits with warmth melting your heart; lying together and just staring into each other's eyes with nothing else going on...and nothing else needed for the experience to feel way beyond special.

It's about paying the bills together with a CD on the player that is a favorite of you both; going grocery shopping together and knowing exactly what the Other would want...and hugging and smooching in the aisles like teenage kids.

It's about jumping up to get that glass of water or the pen that is never where you want it or the TV remote that's across the room for no reason that anyone can think of...and doing it to save steps for your loved one and feeling soft and good inside while doing it, and being inordinately happy to see that smile on your Beloved's face when they say "gosh, thanks, honey. You are so thoughtful!"

It's about rubbing feet and massaging scalps and nuzzling necks and scratching backs and cherishing every kind of physical contact life provides -- and never wanting to miss an opportunity for another.

It's about that small shot of happiness that runs through your veins when your Beloved's voice shows up on the other end of the telephone. It's about feeling safe and deeply cared for in the middle of the night when you've had a bad dream and your Beloved hovers over you, asking softly, "Are you alright?", and then holding you like a child when you say, "Whew. I've just had the worst dream." It's about dropping all your clothes and running naked in the woods, for the sheer deviltry of it...and the sheer joy of a stolen naked hug with your dearest loved one.

This is Minute-to-Minute Love, when a Saturday afternoon in September, raking the leaves and clearing out the yard with your love partner, makes it clear that you have never been happier before in your life.

You know right now if you are having these kinds of experiences. If you are, you're saying right now: "Hey, I have that!" If you don't, you're saying right now: "Hey, I want that!"

One way to create that...make SURE you tell your Other on Valentine's Day...how much you love and adore and cherish them, and every moment that you share.

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day, and I'll be here again next week!



nardine 11th February 2008 7:06 pm

Bless you Neale,

Thank you for this reminder, of the minute-to-minute love I embrace, for me, my husband, and All That Is.

I wish this love for everyone

and may everyone be blessed with a

Happy Valentines Day :smitten:

bettina 13th February 2011 5:25 pm

Wow....I think you 'read my heart and depths of my soul' from minute to minute. :smitten:


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Neale Donald Walsch

Neale Donald Walsch is a modern day spiritual messenger whose words continue to touch the world in profound ways. With an early interest in religion and a deeply felt connection to spirituality, Neale spent the majority of his life thriving professionally, yet searching for spiritual meaning before beginning his now famous conversation with God.


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