Happy Valentine's Day

from Joan Anderson

Quote of the Month  

"Our task is not to seek for Love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within that one has built against Love."   -Rumi

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Some Unfinished Thoughts


A Gift for You This Valentine's Day---Unconditional Love


A few weeks back I was at a friend's home for lunch where she proudly dished up steaming bowls of her mother's vegetable soup-definitely comfort food on a cold February Day. As we took our places at her antique dining room table, she raised her glass to her mother and drank to the delicious recipe she had left behind.


 I found myself becoming misty-eyed, blurting out how much I missed my mother. "Not her presence so much," I explained, "at 94 she had lived a full life and it was time for her to go. But what I think I'm missing is the unconditional love."


My comment led to a lively discussion of a mother's love. Some had punitive, critical mothers, others had mothers so disappointed in their own lives that they had no joy to impart to their daughters, still others wished that their mothers could have been more of a role model-mirroring someone who had the guts to be her own person. Sadly, only a few of us felt unconditionally loved.


I reflected back to my mother driving through a snowstorm when she heard I was in the college infirmary, or following the ambulance to a local hospital just a few years ago after I had broken an ankle-both graphic descriptions of unconditional love.


Still, there were many incidences in which she loved me with condition-the frequent comments about my chubby body, warnings about unladylike behavior, being more than pushy about getting good grades in school, and suggestions about how to behave around men so I would capture one, to name just a few.


I've long since forgiven her the latter transgressions as she probably was trying to steer me in directions that would give me what she hadn't gotten. Conditions stem from fear, it seems, and they are always based on "ifs"...if you do this then you will get that, if this is the case then that will happen. They put rules and ideals around behavior so we become careful with our actions and frugal with our feelings.


My mom's love far surpassed the conditional variety, as I realize that her love was hardly self- serving and there was certainly no payback.


In the Book of Proverbs, it says that "No good becomes a woman until her Mother dies." I so want to rid myself of judgment, criticism, and seeing more negative than positive in others (in other words, loving with condition). A still small voice is whispering inside... become that unconditional lover your mother was.


The poet Rumi believed that our task is not to seek for Love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within oneself that one has built against Love.


The most important place to start it would seem, is with family and extended family. What would my life look and feel like if there were no more demands, felt wishes, expectations, or requirements? What if I saw the lives of others as awesome, fantastic, and praised the way they had arranged everything to fit their own persona? What if I gave up judgment of any kind and began to love for no reason. It seems a tall order, an ideal that will take practice, but one that would also offer me grace as well as relief.


Each time I hold a retreat we end with the most beautiful song that affirms the unconditional love of self as well as others.

                  How could anyone ever tell you,

                  you are anything less than beautiful

                  How could anyone ever tell you,

                  you are less than whole.

                  How could anyone never notice

                  that your loving is a miracle,

                  how deeply you're connected to my soul.


One begins the process of unconditionality by loving oneself. May you start today by giving yourself the love you deserve.


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