A Prickly Kind of Love

I’ve been wanting to write about this ever since Mother’s Day a few weeks back, when my brother brought me a very unusual gift.

I’d spent a couple of hours with my Mom that afternoon and apparently had just missed seeing my brother there. We’d probably crossed paths on the road, as I later learned that he’d headed to my house when he left Mom’s. I was surprised when I got home and my husband said, “Your brother was here. He brought you a Mother’s Day present. It’s on the back patio.”

Why would my brother bring me a Mother’s Day present? It became a little clearer when I saw what it was.

This Prickly Pear cactus had started as a volunteer in his yard a couple of years ago and he’d had it in a pot for a while. His wife reminded him that I see and find hearts everywhere and told him he ought to give this cactus to me. A perfect gift for Mother’s Day, as most of the hearts I find I attribute to my son Cameron – little love notes from the other side. So maybe it was a gift from my brother or maybe he was just the delivery boy. The Universe works in mysterious ways.

When I think of my relationship with Cameron before his death, the prickly nature of this particular heart seems quite appropriate. There was nothing soft and gentle about our love for each other in this lifetime. It was dysfunctional, co-dependent, fear-based, manipulative and controlling. It was not a soft and gentle love, but it was love.

This prickly little heart has gotten my mind to working on the whole concept of love. What it is. What it isn’t. It’s been one of the mysteries I came here to solve for myself this time around, I think. I’ve so often heard that fear is the opposite of love. That always puzzled me.

The fear/love dichotomy is one of the questions I tried to sort out after Cameron’s death in my journaling and in my book, The Deep Water Leaf Society. My love for Cameron was deeply rooted in and expressed as fear most of the time. But if fear is the opposite of love, then did I have it all wrong? Did I ever truly love him? But if I didn’t love him, then why would I have feared for him so deeply?

At the culmination of my healing journey in a profoundly moving and transformative experience in Egypt, the goddess Sekhmet instilled in me a visceral knowing that Love is the only power. I can feel the truth of that in my gut and in my heart, but when my mind tries to grasp it I find all kinds of paradox and evidence to the contrary. I see so many things in this world that sure don’t look like Love. I see all kinds of things in me that sure don’t look like Love.

I was talking to a friend recently about how most of the care I provide for my mother feels like responsibility rather than love. How I get impatient and go through the motions without really connecting much of the time. I wrote a piece some time ago (you can read it here) about one of my mother’s hospitalizations and my thoughts around the fear of death and dying. In that essay I wrote, “I’ve learned to ask myself, ‘What would love do? What is the loving response?’ The answer isn’t always clear.”

In talking this out with my friend, I said, “Most of the time I haven’t a clue what love would do, what it would look like in any given situation.” My friend wisely pointed out that just because I don’t feel loving as I do the things I do doesn’t mean that what I’m doing isn’t, indeed, the loving thing. I came to the conclusion that rather than asking what love would do, I should just invite Love to flow through me and do what it knows to do. The freedom in that is that I don’t have to figure it out. All I have to do is be available and open for the One Power to do its work.

I’ve just finished reading Neale Donald Walsch’s new book, When Everything Changes, Change Everything. Walsch talks about fear and love quite a bit in this book and he has a refreshing take on it. It helps to clear things up for me. Rather than saying that fear is the opposite of Love, he says that “fear is a demonstration of Love.” As if to echo my own thoughts, Walsch writes, “If you did not love another, you would not fear for another, or be afraid of what might happen to that other, because you would not care what happened.”

Walsch asserts that “fear and Love are the same thing, expressed differently. Likewise, every other emotion is Love in another form. There is only one emotion. That emotion is Love, expressed in a thousand different ways.”

If Love is the only power, and I believe that it is, then despite any appearance to the contrary everything I see in the world must be an expression of that Love. Perhaps it is as don Miguel Ruiz says in The Voice of Knowledge. Perhaps humanity’s “fall” was our disconnection from knowing that everything is Love and our buying into false perceptions and judgments of things as good and bad, pretty and ugly, right and wrong. Perhaps we create expressions of fear and anger – sharp, twisted expressions of love – because we’ve closed ourselves off from the Source. Love still finds its way through, but it is shaped and molded by the restrictions and limitations we imagine within ourselves.

And so, like this little heart-shaped cactus, what I can do is vow to let Love express through me, even though I may be an imperfect vessel for its expression. I can try to release those things that block Love’s flow, including all those judgments and perceptions about myself and others. I can choose to recognize and welcome Love in all of its thousands of prickly forms in the world around me.

As always, I welcome your coments here or by email (Claire@DeepWaterLeafSociety.com)

Visit my website: http://www.deepwaterleafsociety.com/

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