Love often seems to be about "haves" and "have-nots" - as in who has someone to hold and who doesn't. I like to look at love a different way - as an inner fire that all of us have.
I was reminded of this fire recently when I was reading a book about working with gemstones. Speaking of the optical properties of gems, the writer refers to the "fire" within a diamond, and how the fire is reflected out from the gem to the viewer with rainbow beauty. He says that sometimes this fire has to be unlocked, but there is no question that it's present ("Working with Gemstones," V.A. Firsoff).
Everyone possesses a spiritual fire, or beauty, whether it's obvious from his or her physical appearance or not. Its source is God, divine Love, and it's unlocked when people begin to see themselves as reflections, or ideas, of that infinite Love.
To be a reflection of Love is to express love and to look for the fire of spiritual beauty in others. This beauty lies deeper than the physical characteristics of people. You see it in their thoughts and actions. It's actually each individual's expression of the goodness and love of God. In other words, your own inner fire and mine.
Jesus spoke of the spiritual beauty and goodness within each of us as "the kingdom of heaven." He said we didn't need to look outside ourselves for it. This kingdom, with its abundance of love and peace, is present with each of us. And the key to the kingdom is willingness to express love to others.
The interesting thing about this process is that looking with love on others reflects that love back onto us - a bit like the optical properties of the diamond. Not only do we feel good because we're feeling love for someone else. The act of loving makes us more beautiful to others.
The beauty that flows from spiritual love doesn't go away. It doesn't age or wither or vanish. As Mary Baker Eddy put it in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "Beauty, as well as truth, is eternal; but the beauty of material things passes away, fading and fleeting as mortal belief.... Immortality, exempt from age or decay, has a glory of its own, - the radiance of Soul" (pg. 247).
Many times I've seen this spiritual radiance make people look lovelier. And I know that when I've been able to express more love, it has made me feel lovelier and ultimately, more loved. Why? I think it's because love brings us closer to God, who is the source of all true love. It begins that process of reflection - where love, expressed by me to others, is reflected back to me, and then, like light, bounces on to love still others. In this way friendships form, relationships with substance develop. They don't necessarily become romantic, but they can be important and fulfilling.
Many years ago I had to work with someone whom I really didn't like or respect. And I knew that I needed a better attitude. I was praying to love him in the spiritual way I've been describing, but couldn't change my feelings of dislike. Then, in an article I read in this newspaper, the author used the phrase "The thought of you delights me." For some reason, I felt very attracted to that phrase and decided that I would think that way about this man.
It would take too long to tell all that resulted from that spiritual exercise and the prayer that went with it. The outcome has been a deep respect and a genuine joy every time I see this man. My heart warms, even thinking of him, because I was changed as a result of the prayer.
The fire of love within - you have it, everyone has it. Nothing can take it away. This love unlocks the door to right relationships and to lasting happiness.
If we pray to Him in secret,
Lift to Him the heart's desire,
We shall find our earthly longings
All made pure by Love's pure fire.
Christian Science Hymnal
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society