Henry David Thoreau once said, “There is no remedy for love, but to love more.”
We thirst after love; it’s impossible to suppress or destroy our desire to attain it; to seek it constantly. That’s something that makes us NO different from any other human being on this planet — We all yearn for more love: to be love, be loving and to be lovable.
If you ask a small child, their definition of love, they might tell you that, “Love is when a grown-up offers to read you a bedtime story — and they won’t skip any pages!” Wouldn’t it be awesome if adults could remember that we’ve made a commitment not to skip any pages?
When asked about Love, people typically think of 3 key areas:
- Love for others which includes family, friends, even strangers — anyone we relate to (or don’t relate to) living cooperatively in the world, etc.
- Love of God (or Holy Spirit) — which includes spiritual community and our connection to nature. Our souls constantly seek to have a burning love affair with the Divine. We want to experience the Sacred in everything around us, as well as communing with the I AM of our being inside & outside of us.
- Often, we include ourselves last when it comes to love. However, many of us are taught at an early age that loving ourselves is pompous or selfish, yet deep down the love we feel towards ourselves actually mirrors the very capacity we have for loving others. In this way, we become an extension of one another seeking unconditional, constant love.
History teaches us that we have had an unquenchable power to love throughout all of time…in Jesus’s time, in current times, and especially in the most difficult of times. For instance, the message of unquenchable Love for self, family, community and God has never been more obvious as in the moving, true story about Philippe Vernier during World War II.
He was an innocent man, sent to a Nazi prison camp to serve 5 years, where he and his family faced the most trying times in their life! They were separated from each other immediately; placed in deplorable, filthy conditions; starved; beaten; subjected to every indignity possible. Philippe vividly recalled watching helplessly as his children and wife were tortured. Thinking only of their needs, he vowed to stay strong in conveying his love for them.
As a devoutly Christian man, Philippe found an amazing resilience inside himself, focusing his passion for family, his God and a resolve for peace. He became a French Protestant minister and well-respected author.
After the war ended, an American officer tracked him down trying to understand how this person could be so devout in the worst times of his life? The officer was successful in locating him, and experienced Philippe Vernier as a rare “luminous soul.” The officer remarked that his time with Philippe was one of the highest watershed events of his own life, forever impacting how he would now view the world.
Philippe Vernier so eloquently wrote:
If you are a disciple of the Master, it is up to you to illumine the earth. You do not have to groan over everything the world lacks; you are there to bring it what it needs… There, where hatred, malice, and discord reigns, you will put love, pardon and peace. For lying, you will bring Truth; for despair, hope; for doubt, faith; where there is sadness, you will give joy. If you are in the smallest degree a servant of God, all of these virtues of light you will carry with you. Do not be frightened by a mission so vast! It is not really you who is charged with the fulfillment of it. You are only the torch-bearer. The fire, even if it burns within you, even when it burns you, is never lit by you. It uses you like it uses the oil of a lamp. You hold it; feed it; carry it around, but it is the fire that works, that gives light to the world, and to yourself at the same time. Do not be the clogged lantern that chokes and smothers the light; the lamp timid, or ashamed, hidden under a bushel; flame up, and shine before all, lift high the fire of God.
SEVEN decades later while reading Philippe Vernier’s words, I, too, was profoundly moved. It strikes me that if we are willing to open our hearts and become more vulnerable, we can impact each other’s lives in the most powerful ways.
The type of love Philippe speaks of is Agape love. As the Greeks understood it, Agape love is a selfless kind of love; a love for the universe; a love that transcends reason, and desires good not only for all humanity, but for all living beings, and for the earth itself. Agape is the kind of loving that exists without possessiveness, without self-interest, without limit.
This kind of love is what's called for in the great commandments handed down by the prophets of the Old Testament, and by Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King. It's a depth of commitment that calls us to ‘bring our very best’ — to respond from our ‘highest consciousness’: that place where we are without judgment, revenge, anger or fear. It calls on us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to love our enemies, too.
We each have an unquenchable Love for Self, Love for Others, Love for God… And we are all incredibly capable of being “luminous souls” to life, to our planet, to our relationships, to the ways we think and feel about things, to others, ourselves and God! To be so in touch with this awareness, we have to be willing to express a larger dimension of our being — into the fullness of who we are really, and what we came here to be.