Love asks great things of us.

This is not so much about your willingness to sacrifice the ego’s demands

for certainty and reassurance, or

for validation of personal worthiness.

This is not really about giving up your shirt or sandwich, your plate of pasta, or even your bed.

It is about saying yes and stepping into the wilderness with open arms and

 no guarantee.

Love asks us to show up and do what needs to be done. Spend more time with those we love. Listen to what others are asking of you. Pay attention to what others need. How can you be of service? Pay attention. The information is in the request. Pitch in at the homeless shelter or the humane society. Volunteer to deliver a meal. It doesn’t matter if you feel ready, or if you believe that you have prepared sufficiently. Your willingness to do what needs to be done, to be directed if and as necessary, to welcome the experience of a learning curve, and the courage to engage the curve, are some of what becoming an activist for love needs and requires.

Love asks us to show up and do what needs to be done. The Occupy Wall Street revolution in Zuccotti Park is a profound example of this. Love one another; Love thy neighbor as thyself; Do unto others as you would have others do to you, and Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me are some of the phrases that precisely describe the phenomena of love manifesting now in New York and as well in dozens of other cities across the United States. Thousands are showing up to do what needs to be done. And what needs to be done? We need to pick ourselves up from the floor of our despair and shake off the trance of powerlessness. We need to stand up to injustice and to those who have benefited from it. We need to organize around fairness. We need to be selfless, offering our skills and talents to each other. We need to share our shelter, and our food. We need to re-vision ourselves and our paradigms, not just for our sake, but for the sake of the world – our world. Personal sacrifices may be necessary to alleviate the tremendous injustices that are all around us, inside of every minute of every day, but with perseverance, we will succeed. Love is and always has been on our side.

For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.

Love demands courage. Love demands that we connect to each other. We are required to be brave in the face of uncertainty. When we give of ourselves, we do not know how we will be received. We do not know if the outcome we seek will come to pass. We do not engage out of love because we have a stake in glorious end-results; rather, we actively engage our minds, hearts, and bodies to the extent of what we have been called to do, using every ounce of our gifts, talents, and endurance to bring to bear what love requires. When love calls, you will not always feel ready. You may feel that your research is incomplete or that you have not spent enough time practicing. Sometimes we feel deficient; we are not quite up to the task. Sometimes we are literally deficient, but not necessarily in a way that would prevent us from showing up and participating.

Here is one example. At youtube you can find the story of a young Iraqi man, a hopeful singer, who was made an Australian citizen through adoption. He and his brother were found in a park, in a shoebox, by nuns who then delivered the babies to an orphanage not far from the war-ravaged area in which they had been found.

Neither of these infants had identification. Moreover, they were deformed and maimed, as both were missing substantial portions of their arms, and at least one of them was also crippled in both legs. Even so, because of the love of their adoptive mother, an Australian woman, they were nourished in both heart and body, and released to express the gifts of their souls. In the interview that precedes his audition, Emmanuel tells his story. When he speaks, his face is radiant. It is only as he walks the wings of the stage to center that the camera reveals the rest of his body. His arms are stumps, his legs are not the same length, and his walk is crooked.

It doesn’t matter. Emmanuel is filled with hope, with possibility, and with the love of his art. He has been immeasurably nurtured by the love of his mother. Though Emmanuel is physically not whole, love has made him whole. And here is the magic of love: showing up does not require that you arrive on the scene perfectly polished and complete. It is in the process of opening yourself to love that you are healed. Love itself heals you.

For his audition, Emmanuel chose John Lennon’s Imagine. This song expresses a vision for a world in which the circumstances of Emmanuel’s early life, the same circumstances that countless live in, cannot exist because the fear and greed that created them do not exist. A world in which there is nothing to kill or die for is a world that has been transformed by love. Emmanuel made of his personal story and condition of body a powerful and moving icon for the truth that love does not require our perfection, but only our willingness to show up on love’s behalf. I do not know if Emmanuel went on to win fame and fortune, but the brave work he did, of showing up as he was, no doubt inspired many to reach for their potential. This is what love, allowed to express through imperfection, can do.

The greatest thing that love asks of you and that you can do on behalf of love is to show up and participate. You don’t have to look good. You don’t have to be good. You do not have to be perfect in your delivery; you just need to show up. So you don’t achieve all your goals one day. So you didn’t execute perfectly. Don’t let that stop you. Don’t give up. Do not seek personal rewards. Do not look for pre-conceived results. Be patient with yourself and others. Be kind to yourself and others. Love is, after all, patient and kind. You will, through the humble act of opening your heart so that love can work through you, make the personal discovery that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. You will find strength you did not know you had. Come as you are, and get ready to receive the blessings of love: when you open to love you reconnect to who you are, you are connected to others, and you will remember your purpose. Love asks great things of us but also gives them back.

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