On Being in Love: A Spiritual Challenge

"Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams."
- Fyodor Dostoevsky

That was the great Dorothy Day's favorite quote. Working every day with the poor and houseless, with the indigent, with immigrants, migrant workers, or against war, she knew a lot about love. She knew the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the constant need to return.

I have committed myself to being open to love in all its forms. However love arrives at the doorstep of my heart, I try to recognize it. At least, that is my intention. It isn't always easy. Sometimes it feels challenging. Sometimes it feels exhilarating. Sometimes it feels like a rush of joy and opening. Sometimes it feels harsh. Sometimes dreadful. All of these can remind me of the need to be in love.

Being in love. When we talk like this, we are usually referencing some "special" state that happens between only two people at one time, some frisson of understanding that bonds a couple. We preference that state in song, in film, in fiction. We long for it. We think it is the answer to our problems and our prayers. We think being in love is a rare gift.

Being in love is a gift, but it is only rare if we decide to make it so.

Being in love is literally a state of being.

It isn't about infatuation or pair bonding. Being in love means to recognize that love is a pattern and a flow. Love is something we can choose to take ourselves away from. Love is something we can choose to dive back into.

By being in love, we place our heart, body, mind, and soul into a larger flow of Being.

Love, for me, is what I often call the process, the flow, the limitless unfolding of God Hirself. All other expressions come from and return to this.

I am part of love and love is part of me. When love feels harsh and dreadful, there might be a friend to ask for a listening ear, or even advice. There might be a patron deity to call upon for their particular energy that lends skill to a particular situation. Depending on what traditions we follow: Brigid can help us toward healing. Dagda can help us toward generosity. Tyr can help us toward justice. Yemoja can help soothe our souls. Nuit can remind us that the night sky itself holds the possibility of birth.

However, when something weighs heavily on my heart, when the expression of love feels particularly harsh, there is no omnipotent entity who will solve my problems. There is no one I can pray to, like I tried to in my childhood, who will make it all better. What I can do is try to bring myself into greater alignment. What I can do is sit in prayer and meditation with myself, coaxing the parts that feel uneasy back into the larger whole. I can imagine myself in the flow that is love. I can imagine love flowing through me. I can remember that love is the base that I always want to return to. I can remember that falling out of love is an aberration, and no answer.

I can bring myself back into the flow of love.

Sometimes being in love means to set a strong boundary. Sometimes being in love arrives with anger. Sometimes being in love means that our hearts feel like they are breaking. That is good. The more we allow this, the greater our capacity for love. The greater our capacity for love, in my experience, the greater our capacity to experience what some of us name God, and others of us name Connection. We are light and matter, particle and wave, process and flow, and everything in between. We are, and are becoming. It is a challenge to recognize these things, but that challenge helps us to come to a greater state of healing within ourselves and with the world.

Whether in a state of joy and beauty, or in a state where things weigh heavy on my heart, I can be in love.

We can Be. In Love.