Love Actually

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Dec 132014

Last night my wife and I had our annual viewing of the movie, “Love Actually.” There is no other movie that I am drawn to watch time after time, and I have been wondering what the attraction is.

This movie intertwines nine love stories that illustrate the imperfections of love as we actually experience it including an unfaithful husband, an unfaithful wife, a woman who sacrifices romantic love to care for her brother, a husband who loses his wife to cancer, a 10 year old boy who for the first time is strongly attracted to a girl………… The stories are poignant and messy, filled with complications. So why am I attracted to this?

I go deep within myself searching for an answer, and what I find is the self that has always yearned for love and acceptance. Sometimes the love I sought wasn’t there, at least as I wanted it, and other times it was there and I didn’t recognize it. And often it was offered in a way that did not meet my expectations, and I was unable to accept it. Many, many times I was disappointed, but never did I give up.

That brings me back to what attracts me in this movie. In all of these messy stories, there is no giving up. The message is that love endures in spite of all our imperfections in giving and receiving it. Early in life, I looked for love outside myself. That was natural and understandable given my complete dependence on my parents in the early years. Eventually, I started to look within myself, and as I find love in me, I am much better prepared to recognize and accept it from others and to give it with greater generosity.

This is the Christmas season, and my focus turns to the question: what gifts do I have to give the King (taken from the story of the little drummer boy)? The answer is simple—love. And paraphrasing Hugh Grant in the movie, I have come to believe that love is actually all around us.

 Posted by at 5:39 pm

That Part of Me That Doesn’t Change

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Dec 052014

I was raised to believe that I have a Soul and that part of me will exist after death in Heaven. As I started to understand more clearly the limitlessness of the universe, I could no longer believe in Heaven as a place, but I continued to believe that I am more than this physical body. Do I know this to be so, and if so what is it?

Recently, I have become increasingly aware of a part of me that doesn’t change with time. When my wife and I were visiting my family in Virginia where I grew up, I was reminded of how I felt as a child, as a teenager, and as a young adult. While a large part of that memory had to do with my personality and my strivings, there was and is the part that is just “me” without any of the usual identification. It is the me that requires no name, no occupation, no history. It is the same “me” today; it is that part of me that doesn’t change.

When I discussed this awareness with him, my teacher said, “This isn’t part of you; it is the real you.” His point was that we aren’t all of those personality traits that we think we are, that we truly are the part that doesn’t change, the part that was never born, the part that will never die.

This new awareness seems to be anchoring me in that I can more easily face stress, chaos and conflict. It is a good sense, one that seems self-affirming. It leads me to want to be in this place of awareness of the changeless self all of the time. It is a direction that I intend to pursue. Perhaps it is pursuing me!

If this appeals to you and you have not yet found the me that doesn’t change, I suggest that you get in a quiet place and recall a time in your youth when you were particularly happy. Remember as much as you can about your experience. See if you can find in that expanse of feelings and consciousness the part of you that hasn’t changed, that still feels the same today. And then ask, could this be eternity?

 Posted by at 11:16 pm