Love is the core of our lives. It is the purpose, passion and meaning of life. To love and be loved is the point of it all. Yet love, so important and central to our lives, is a complex experience and a confusing word. We mean different things and misunderstand each other when we say, "I love you."
Love comes in many forms-as many as the number of humans that have ever lived.
I see love as a potential spiritual experience-to see and be seen as we really are-beyond what we each appear to be. To love is to recognize the divine in another person, and with that recognition, dedication, compassion and caring flow naturally. To be loved this way is like coming home, finding your authentic self and discovering that you are not alone.
Love takes us deeper into the self yet goes beyond self. It penetrates to the depths of the soul. We love the unique expression of the divine in the other, the other is no longer separate from us, and once that connection between you is experienced there can be no separation.
Life is all about relationships, and love is the point of it all. Life is imperfect, we are all flawed, life is unpredictable, and we all make mistakes. We waste our time and energy, we stray from our paths, and we harm each other. Yet love makes it worthwhile and allows us to forgive others and ourselves.
Unconditional love is an ideal form of love. It is the perfect, all forgiving love of parents for their children. But even the most devoted mother or father falls short of perfection.
We may search our whole lives for the perfect soul mate-one whom we love without judgment or reservation, one who loves us the same perfect way, but we will never find that perfection because we are each human.
We must accept and appreciate love just as we have received it in all its human imperfection.
It is through us that love is received- and expressed. It is in our lives, through our actions, in our words and in our relationships that divine love is manifest. But, of course, we are human-imperfect, frail and fallible. We do not see clearly-ourselves or others. We love imperfectly and we do not fully appreciate the love that we receive.
But that is how we experience love-divine love, unconditional love, compassion and grace-filtered by the passions and hunger of our bodies, clouded by our limited minds and nar-rowed by our little selves.
We must not only love the ones we're with. We must accept the love we have been given.
This morning, my thoughts began with a prayer of appreciation for love in my life-in the past and in the present, as I have received it, partly through the grace of the events and circumstances of my life and the gifts I have received but primarily through my important relationships.
I am thankful for love- perfect and unconditional- as manifest and expressed in my imperfect relationships. I accept and appreciate that love as expressed by my wife in our long relationship, in her concern and care for me, our home and our children. I appreciate the love of each of my children, the experiences we have shared as they have grown and we have all learned, in shared adventures, challenges and memories, in the rituals and routine of our everyday lives that seem endless but are finite.
I appreciate divine love through my relationships with my parents, each expressing love in their own ways, with my sister and with my brother.
I am thankful for the love received and expressed in my deepest friendships. I am grateful for the gift of my work-and the opportunity to express unconditional love in the care of my patients.
Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician and writer. His column appears regularly in this paper. You can find his posts at davidicuswong.wordpress.com.