“We all have the seeds of love and compassion in our minds, and we can develop these fine and wonderful sources of energy. We can nurture the unconditional love that does not expect anything in return and therefore does not lead to anxiety and sorrow.” Thich Nhat Hahn
Some time ago in the hazy memories of pre-COVID, I had a conversation with one of you about unconditional love. I told you I would write about it. You may forgotten about it by now but i found this in my blog notes. I don’t have any new philosophies or glowing prose, I must depend on the words of others. But I know what I believe about it from my experience.
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Unconditional love: What is it? Where do we find it and how do we feel it? Does it come as a blessing that falls from the sky or do we work on it until we get it right?.
Father Boyle describes it well: “It’s about loving that doesn’t seek for return. Otherwise, you don’t live in the abundance of it. You’re always waiting for somehow there to be a return on your investment in love.”
To me, unconditional love as a parent and a grandparent comes naturally. So it is spontaneous. There is nothing that any of you could do (or not do) to cause me to stop loving you – that’s what makes it unconditional.
Funny, I didn’t recognize it in my parents. Because unconditional love was hard to recognize and hard to accept when I was immature …only complete and total agreement and approval equated to love. Any instructional advice I took as criticism, And with criticism I felt unloved.
Only now can I look back and realize how many times I didn’t take my parents’ advice. How i did not follow their chosen path. How I did not live as they expected. Still they loved me. At that age I was a true test of unconditional love. They passed.
There have been times when my children certainly didn’t listen to me. (As adults, why should they have?) They argued with me. they falsely ( I thought) judged me – and harshly. And they ignored me.
There are times my feelings have been injured. There are times I have felt lonely, fearing abandonment. There are even times when I was angry. But my love for them has never been in question.
Maybe that’s where the work comes in. Because my love for them is a direct force between us and cannot be broken by temporary bad feelings or misunderstandings. It is always there.
When my children took life partners my intention was that those partners become children of my heart. Some are gone and seemingly forgotten. But I still carry them in my heart. My acceptance of them as my children was not casual.
I think unconditional love is more like the Greek word, agape.
Anglican theologian O.C. Quick writes that this agape is divine.
“If we could imagine the love of one who loves men purely for their own sake, and not because of any need or desire of his own, purely desires their good, and yet loves them wholly, not for what at this moment they are…
What a concept. But I believe in it. I know that each and everyone of you can walk through the world knowing you are enveloped in a cocoon of love. My love isn’t situational. It isn’t locational. It is alwaya with you. And it won’t die with me.* You can call upon my love at any time and extract memories and feelings that glow with the warmth of love and laughter.
* without getting into it an even deeper discussion of life as it lives on.