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Love Is Its Own Reward

I just finished The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak and to say that I am emotional is an understatement. I feel as if I finally realized that the thing that I have been looking for all along is LOVE. I talk about love all the time, but today the word love feels different. If you aren’t familiar with the book, it is about how the Sufi poet Rumi is transformed by his mentor, the wandering dervish, Shams of Tabriz. Through his meeting with Shams, Rumi evolves from a scholar into a living embodiment of love.

As an aside, a fly just came out of nowhere, buzzing and interrupting my flow of thoughts. I am reminded of a post that one of my good friends @seekcindyofficial_ wrote on twitter the other day about flies being monitoring spirits that come to distract you right when you are about to process major emotions and trauma. This can be applied literally or figuratively. Either way, I digress…

Recently I have been quite overwhelmed and stumped by the circumstances of life that have found me. My resources, materially and in some respects, spiritually have seemingly vanished forcing me to re-evaluate and second guess everything. Though some of the recent changes feel like a more natural way of living, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t uncomfortable and scared.

I am using my hands a lot more, cooking where I’d usually just order out and creating my own products rather than purchasing them. I am declining social invites with friends who are probably at best, associates and having to do nothing when problems outside of me arise because I simply don’t have or don’t want to use what I do have to “pay off problems” anymore. I also feel like I am on the verge of losing some of my material possessions and physical attachments. Items and relationships that I have grown fond of. It is a scary time for me but after finishing The Forty Rules of Love I realize that an even scarier experience would be to never know and experience true love. Just thinking of living without experiencing God’s love sends chills up my spine. I am almost scared to write those last statements- mostly because of paranoia and superstition. You know where it feels like your words set off some sort of invisible test that brings all sorts of misfortune to your doorstep like what happened to Job from the Bible. God allows the devil to test Job by stripping everything from him except his life. He loses it all, is abandoned by all, yet in his pain and agony never surrenders his love for God. The story ends with Job getting ‘double for his trouble’ and restores all that he lost.

Which brings me to my next revelation of the day: how the quest of pursuing God’s love is truly how you gain everlasting life. I recognized today how everyone is searching for love. Only most of us search outside of ourselves for what can only come from within, from God. We think and deceive ourselves into believing that the next “thing”- money, status, relationship, job, title, outfit, idea even will suddenly unlock the love we have always been in search. How sad and frustrated we are when we discover that this is not the truth but only a snare that takes what seems like more time than we have to spare to unravel ourselves from. And so, we continue our futile journeys for love in all the wrong places and spaces.

I sat at my kitchen countertop this Sunday morning after finishing the book, pensive and softly crying at the realization that what I have been wanting, needing, and thirsting for all along is LOVE. I finally saw the thread of what was missing as I reflected on my pursuits, presently and in the past, of things I thought would bring me closer to love, to myself, to God. My deepest desire is to be, see, express, and experience the love of God whether like John the Baptist, I am abased or I abound. God’s love is what makes like bearable. Love and the possibility of it, is what will give you the strength to stay another day. I see now that despondence, despair, and their 1st cousin depression are all just varying degrees of the absence of love from the self and from God. Such a dark cloud reveals itself after we come to see that no matter what we may attain outside of us, nothing comes close to pure love.

Though the paths we sometimes choose may be deluded and disillusioned, I believe that intrinsically we are all in search of love because we understand that true living begins with love. We want to be worthy of love, we want the peace that passes all understanding that only love brings. We want to live as the essence of love, the part of us that remains long after our bodies decompose and all there is left of us is ashes. We want to be the love that we know we are.

What a Sunday!

With all that said, I leave you with Rule Number Forty,

"A life without love is of no account. Don't ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western.... Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple.

"Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire!

"The universe turns differently when fire loves water."

P.S. special thanks to my friends @tashabee and @seekcindyoffial_ who are living examples of love in this time and dimension.

If you read or have read The Forty Rules of Love lets chat!

Image: My very own Shams of Tabriz

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