Your task is not to seek for love...

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” - Rumi

A few years ago, I got my second tattoo (I remind my teenagers often that I waited until my 30s to make these permanent choices). I wanted the tattoo to be in a place where I would see it often, where it could serve as an important and constant reminder. There are a number of significant symbols I asked the artist to include in the concept he drew up, and then I told him I needed it to say “be love”. I should have also had him add, in tiny parentheses beneath it “also, be very brave…”

I believe love is the ultimate guidepost, the strongest healing force, and the ultimate standard by which everything can be based upon or compared to. I have long felt called to seek to live love, to embody love, and to give love. I once heard someone say, “pray for patience, and God will give you a long line at Starbucks.” How could I have failed to anticipate that my desire to learn about love would invite a light to shine and expose my darkest, shadowy corners? It turns out that lessons in love begin by first exposing murky swamps of grasping neediness bordered by barbed wire fences of self-defense.

At first, as I stumbled through each new discovery of where I was not love, I struggled with feelings of inadequacy and frustration. Humbled, I learned that to “be love”, I would have to also “be brave”, for fear is love’s kryptonite and anger love’s antidote. Now, when either of these emotions of the ego are present, I only have to look down at the tattoo on my arm for the reminder to return to love.

So much has been written about what love is or how we should love. Yet, I think perhaps the biggest barrier we have built against love is the misconception that love is finite; that our capacity is limited, so we have to ration it to make sure there is enough for those we deem deserving of our most precious commodity. After my own heart’s excavation, the beautiful thing I discovered is that if we are courageous in our intent to love, our capacity for love can be expansive and boundless. Our hearts are kind of like Mary Poppin’s carpetbag… but capable of even more magic.

Joy ShawJoy Shaw