Recently, my husband Karl Lewis wrote the following piece and I am delighted to share it with you today.
I want to talk to you today about Love.
Once, I saw a delightful picture posted on the internet, a small Lutheran Church in Missouri, had one of those adjustable marquee signs out front, and what it said was: “If you hate anyone because of your faith, you’re doing it wrong.” I thought that was beautiful. It was one of the best messages I’ve ever seen on a church lawn. I am sure we can make a stronger statement: If you hate someone, anyone, for any reason, you’re doing it wrong. So what does it mean to do it right? What does that look like? I think it’s very simple and straightforward; two words:
That’s it, nothing else. Simple, right? Deceptively simple, I’d call it. Let me explain.
It is not enough just to love your family. It is not enough to love your next-door neighbor. It is not enough to just love people like ourselves. It is not enough to love yourself. (Though that is certainly a good place to start.) To be enlightened, to have raised your consciousness, means just this: that you love more than you don’t. Love More is both the destination and the path. It is hard for us to hear that we must Love More, because it means that we must love even those we don’t know, don’t like, don’t agree with, and don’t love. We must love everyone, in spite of their flaws. (They don’t have any flaws.) We must even find a way to love ourselves, in spite of our our flaws. (We don’t have any flaws, either.) If we want to attain enlightenment we are not permitted the luxury of stopping. There is no “enough.” There is no “I have arrived.” Whatever we have done, however much we have learned to love, we must, today, tomorrow, always, Love More. Even if we have not learned how to Love More, yet, there is no shot clock, no failure, no point at which there’s no point in trying to learn to Love More.
And, no one else can tell us what it means to Love More, we must always decide, for ourselves, each day, each hour, each minute, what it means to Love More, now. We must learn to see the truth: that anything less than love is less than who we truly are.
There is little humor in this situation. There is little comfort to be taken in it. It is a challenge. It is a demand. It should every day drive us from our comfort zone. Life offers us opportunities, each day to learn to Love More. When confronted with an unwashed homeless person, we are being given a chance to Love More. When confronted with an obnoxious co-worker we are being given another chance to Love More. When confronted with a family member who drives us crazy, we are actually being offered yet another opportunity to see the truth, and Love More. Everywhere we go, everything and everyone we see, we are offered the opportunity, given the requirement, to figure out how to Love More.
I cannot tell you where this will lead you; that is yours to decide, and yours alone. I can tell you where it has led some… I can tell you that some have been moved to become healers, caregivers, teachers, priests, ministers, monks, nuns, wanderers, politicians, writers, speakers, philanthropists. It has led some to being called “Buddha.” I can tell you that no one is immune, no one is exempted from this requirement. I believe that Jesus understood this, and after having the skin flayed off his back, and made to wear a crown of thorns, after he let them nail him to a cross, he had to love the men who drove the nails into his arms and legs, and left him to suffocate in agony there on a cross, on a hilltop, in the hot sun. When he wondered why God had forsaken him, the message that I am sure he heard back was simple: Love More. And he asked forgiveness for his torturers, his executioners.
It seems to me that the usual question so many of us spend so much time asking ourselves, looking for some purpose in our lives, some direction, is nothing but a distraction from this simple obvious requirement that Life lays before us. I could be wrong, but I think what Life asks of us is just this: Love More.
I guess I do believe that there is some comfort to be had in this notion. Because you see, there is no final trial. There is no goal line. There may not even be a way to fail completely. There is only ourselves, each of us, alone, measuring and knowing what we are doing with and about this requirement, deciding for ourselves, in our own lives, in our own situations: how can we Love More? No matter what we’ve done or not done before, no matter what else is going on in our lives, we have to choose, again and again, how to do it ourselves. The question for each of us is the same: How can I Love More?
As Karl first read this to me tears filled my eyes, simple yet profound. Yes, I think that is the right question for all of us, “How can I Love More?”