The tagline for this website says of the journey toward nonviolence that "in the end, it's about increasing our capacity to love." I believe that wholeheartedly.
That is why we're here.
To grow in love.
Coming to a place where we listen compassionately, regard the full dignity of every human person, and respond to violence with curiosity instead of judgment or anger (among other things) means having within us an ever-expansive and welcoming spirit of love.
We cannot live this way if we have not love.
But how does that loving spirit within us grow?
How is our capacity for love enlarged?
I have found that an ability to love emerges from a security in our own belovedness.
"We love, because he first loved us." -- 1 John 4:19
I used to read that passage in the Bible and think that love was my obligation. Since God had loved me -- he had, after all, saved my life by giving up his Son's own life! -- so I needed to love others.
But knowing this truth of God's love did not produce a spirit of love in me.
I didn't know love simply because I knew -- in my mind -- God's love. Mental assent did not produce transformation.
Instead, I found I only knew love once I knew love:
. . . once I had experienced it in a deep, profound, and personal way.
. . . once it had pierced the deepest fibers of my being.
. . . once it had touched the depths of my identity.
Once that happened, I found my desire to love others simply overflowed. My heart just grew, almost of its own accord.
How does that happen, then?
How do we experience love in a deep and profound way?
I've found it requires a journey.
That's why this space is named for the journey.
We are walking a path that takes time and intention, and it is leading us toward a love that encompasses all things.
As we set out on this path together, then, take a few moments to reflect on your current state of learning love.
Which of these statements best describes your place in the journey right now?
- I don't know what love is. This is where my own journey began. I came to a point of reckoning, a moment of revelation where I realized that I didn't know what love or grace or even God meant to me. This began a process of intentional exploration where I learned that my heart had built up walls -- many walls -- that made it quite impervious to love. This first part of the journey, then, was about unlearning the many false forms of love I'd adopted inside my soul. It was about unlearning unlove.
- I'm learning how to be loved. Once we unlearn unlove, we find a space inside of us that is ready to learn what real love is. All kinds of questions crop up here. What does real love look like? How does it apply to me? How is it different than the forms of unlove I carried before? What is it like for me to touch, taste, and feel it? This can be a wobbly, uncertain time in the journey as entire realities begin to shift and sway in the laying of an entirely new foundation. But it is also a remarkable time of testing boundaries and learning that love -- real love -- is truly limitless.
- I'm basking in my belovedness. Eventually, the fact of our belovedness becomes more natural, more comfortable, more real. More a part of our everyday make-up. It becomes something we believe with increasing certainty. We find that chains of guilt, shame, and obligation have loosed their hold upon us, and we begin to breathe in freedom. This is a delicious, joyful, contented part of the journey as we rest in our worth and utter acceptance to God.
- I want others to know their belovedness, too. As I shared above, love begets love. It is creative. It's generative. Once we taste love, we want others to taste love, too. In this part of the journey, our eyes begin to train themselves outward. Compassion becomes a currency of life. As we see others who are broken, downtrodden, and striving -- just as we once were doing the same -- we increasingly long for them to experience a journey of freedom and love in their own lives, too.
- I am willing to die for love. This last stage, I must confess, took me completely by surprise. I didn't know it was there, even though the example and words of Jesus Christ should have made it plain as day. But there it was, waiting for me in my own journey over the course of this past year. In this stage, I'm learning that we move from basking in our own belovedness and wanting others to experience their belovedness, too, to finding that our own lives mean less to us than the lives of others. This is not about a degradation of self, but about a giving of self -- all for love. Here, love begins to foment within us with so much vigor that we become willing to bleed, spill, and even die if necessary because of it, trusting our own lives into the loving arms of God if it means becoming vessels of love and peace for the salvation of others. This part of the journey into love is quite mysterious, I'm finding, but it does await us on the path to love as we keep leaning into the ongoing journey.
A few items of note as it relates to our journeying together here . . .
- Because each person's story and pace on the journey is unique, we will spend time exploring all five of these stages in greater depth on an ongoing basis. It is my hope to provide food for persons in each stage of the journey here.
- As such, pilgrims in all stages are welcome here, and you are welcome to walk at your own pace!
- I find it also worth noting that we can sometimes journey back and forth between stages, as we sometimes discover new walls inside our hearts exist that make us impervious to love in other ways we hadn't yet discovered, and we need to unlearn unlove in those places, too.
So now my question for you is:
Where on the journey into love do you find yourself right now?