A purpose to live by
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
The search for purpose and meaning goes on. In the last few years, a flood of seminars, books, and motivational talks about life-purpose indicates people's deep desire for a clearer purpose in order to live a richer, more meaningful and successful life.
I was reminded the other day of an experience that taught me a great deal about purpose and has prompted me to revisit this issue.
Several years ago when I was teaching in a preschool, my 3-year-old friend, Bion, asked me to tell him about my life. I took him seriously and began to chronicle my life for him.
When I was finished and long after I believe he had stopped listening, he said, "That's interesting," and quickly moved on to something else. If he were an adult, I probably would have been offended, but his response amused me.
There was something else, too. Like all 3-year-olds, Bion responded to love. He really didn't know or care anything about my background, education, achievements, or mistakes. And none of those things made any difference to me in my relationship with him. What was important to me was that Bion felt how much I loved him. That was enough. I was successful because I knew that he knew that.
In fact, my purpose was so clear to me when I worked with those kids that when I left that job, I received many notes filled with gratitude from parents. One mother thanked me through tears for what I had done for her little one. Although they might not have known all the difficult moments I'd had with discipline and behavior, they understood how essential it was that their children had felt loved.
So when a friend told me the other day that she felt her purpose in life was to express unconditional love, I felt a realization welling up inside that loving with a deep spiritual love is a must. Kids may be easy to love, but it's those older "kids" - family members, co-workers, and myself that are really the test. I've been asking myself more often, Is having the purpose to love and have it as my measure of success too simplistic in a society where material accomplishment is still so important? I would answer no, and I believe many others who are searching for a deeper meaning in life would agree.
For me, the greatest teacher of love in the Bible is Christ Jesus. He gave this commandment to his disciples of yesterday and today: "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another" (John 13:34). I have come to see that loving really means identifying oneself and others with Love, God, as the only source of being, the only Father and Mother, who made each of us His-Her loving and lovable child. Since what Jesus said about loving is a command, obedience to it brings with it an authority to silence and heal anything unlovely.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper, wrote in her most important book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "The manifestation of God through mortals is as light passing through the window-pane" (page 295).
To me that means that Love is always shining forth its manifestation as love. The demand is for me to keep the window of my thought clean in order to let this love touch my thought and not to stand in the way of it reaching the lives of the people I encounter. Anything unlike Love, such as irritation, frustration, discouragement, ingratitude, or even indifference, would block the expression of Love that's ready to flow so naturally where there is an opening.
I'm not sure how many kudos I'm getting these days for my loving, but I'm running the race in this noble purpose to love more. If this purpose is practiced, its success is inevitable.
By this shall all men
know that ye are my disciples,
if ye have love one to another.