I would like to go back to the topic of our connection to others. (See 3/4/10 Zero Degrees of Separation.) Our connection with others is related to our connection with God. (As always, I mean God in whatever sense is meaningful to you.) I believe they are one and the same. Many studies show that our happiness is directly related to the connection we have with others.
Great concept, but hard to put into practice. How many times a day do I separate myself from someone by anger, judgment, criticism, fear, resentment, seeing someone else as “other”? Let’s face it, there are plenty of folks out there I really don’t want to be connected to.
I have a friend in Los Angeles who does stand up comedy. She says she supports the military policy of banning women from combat. “Why,” she asks, “would I want to go halfway around the world to wear a ton of gear in the middle of the burning desert and shoot at people who have done absolutely nothing to me, when I can sit in the air-conditioned comfort of my own living room and take out a few people who really matter?!”
Been there. So if maintaining a connection to other people is the price of admission to my happy place, I sometimes need, as Patti LaBelle sings, a new attitude.
A Course in Miracles teaches that love has no opposite. Love is all there is. (Wasn’t that the title of a Beatles song? No, that was "Love is all you need." Also true.) When something happens that blocks our awareness of love’s presence, we experience that separation as fear. When we feel afraid, we reflect our separation from others through negative thoughts, words, and behavior. In reality, all we are doing is seeking reconnection. We are calling for love. Everything we do or say or think is either an expression of love (when we are connected) or a call for love (when we are separated). Everything is one or the other. It’s that simple.
When I can remember this, I find that it is much easier to keep my heart open. For example, if someone is unkind to me, instead of reacting defensively, I can take a deep breath and think, “Man, you are seriously calling for love.” My attention shifts away from my own hurt feelings. My ego is not engaged. I can stay connected at that sacred level. Then whatever I do or say or think is an expression of love.
If I am unable to make this shift, if I react with separating thoughts or words or deeds of my own in retaliation, then later I can see that I was calling for love myself. And yes, sometimes I am the one who initiates the call for love by being unkind to someone else. When I see my own behavior in this light, it is easier for me to accept responsibility and apologize.
Characterizing negative thoughts, words, or behavior as a call for love helps me stay centered, no matter how big or small the hurt is, no matter whether it is directed at me or someone else. If I can reinterpret a perceived attack as a call for love, then my heart stays soft and open. Forgiveness and compassion flow naturally to others and to ourselves from an open heart. When my heart is open, I stay connected, and my words and thoughts and actions are expressions of love. When I choose to express love, I am exactly where I want to be–in my happy place in the presence of the divine.
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