Everyone wants to feel loved, and deep down everyone wants to give love. But according to most writers and poets, not to mention everyday folks kvetching over dinner about family and friends, love seems to be in short supply. Where did this longing for love come from?
One kind of romantic love began in the Middle Ages. In the 14th century, for instance, the Italian poet Petrarch wrote about his vision of love. His desired love-object was the distant, unattainable, even unknowable Laura, eternally unavailable to him, and so idealized that she couldn't possibly live up to the Laura of his imagination.
So love poems such as Petrarch's started the ball rolling, celebrating a love that can never be realized in any practical, nurturing way. And today we wind up with compressed, shallower versions of Petrarch's fantasy in greeting cards and TV movies.
This kind of romantic love - now sometimes called "the Hallmark" version - is just as unrealistic now as it was in the 14th century. It is but a shadow of what every person truly yearns for: the deep, rock-solid, powerful love of Love itself - of God.
The Love that created us. The Love that fills the universe and includes in itself its entire creation - every single one of us. Because the reality - the absolute, unchanging, eternal reality - is that we can't escape from Love. An old Elton John recording includes these lines: "Love is the opening door, Love is what we came here for./ Do you know what I mean? Have your eyes really seen?" ("Love Song" music and lyrics by Leslie Duncan)
So here's the question: Have we opened up our eyes only to the love in human relationships, which can be wonderful - or sometimes not? What about opening up to the profound, right here, right now, overwhelming love that God has for us? Because when we recognize that our Creator is divine Love itself, and that we are created in Love's image - wholly spiritual - we will realize that Love is what we came here for. It's what we are about.
That means love isn't in short supply. It's not elusive. But where do you find it? The key is to realize that Love isn't outside of your consciousness, your own heart. When you give love to others by being kind and compassionate when you could be cynical; when you get past your own ego and let others shine; when you can feel genuine happiness in other people's successes, you are giving love - and that's when you get love. It's the greatest Christian paradox - letting your ego die so your authentic self can live and flourish.
The first step in feeling the profound love of all Love is to put God first, to let God's will become your will. Learn to be patient when you feel frustrated with others. Be meek when you're feeling most self-righteous. These steps take you into the great heart of Love itself. And that's when you feel most loved.
The author of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy, wrote extensively about love and asked this question: "Would existence without personal friends be to you a blank? Then the time will come when you will be solitary, left without sympathy; but this seeming vacuum is already filled with divine Love. When this hour of development comes, even if you cling to a sense of personal joys, spiritual Love will force you to accept what best promotes your growth" (page 266).
Spiritual love. Is it abstract, far away? Not realistic, maybe? The Bible says, "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you" (James 4:8). In other words, open up to Love, and Love will open up to you. That's no empty promise. Because as Science and Health explains, "... divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation or object..." (page 304). Love can never be separated from Her creation - you.
Practically speaking, how does one get in touch with spiritual love? By quieting troubled thinking and letting divine Love whisper into consciousness the very messages She has specifically for you. By being fearless about accepting the good God has for you. When you really let Love be the opening door, hope will fill your heart. And you'll feel the quiet confidence that Love is close - that Love is here and now, unconditionally, eternally loving you.