unconditional…

Intense love does not measure,
it just gives.

Mother Teresa


Photo by Olegkalina

So the idea of unconditional love came creeping into the forefront of my thoughts recently.

I’d say for various reasons…but no matter the reason, it got me thinking.

Unconditional love, is it not, a noble idea, or is that ideal?

As a Christian, I would think that we of all people, should grasp the concept a bit more so
than unbelievers, in part, because that is a fundamental building block to our faith.

You know that whole “For God so loved the world…”
and that He would “give” his son over for us…that He would love us so
unconditionally, given our often wretched, sinful and selfish responses,..
well it is quite the gift for a foundation.

So I got to pondering whether or not this noblest of attributes is
actually truly attainable to mankind…or is it simply unattainable?

I opted for a bit of research…and found an article from Psychology Today
regarding the notion of unconditional love and the real possibility that
humans could actually achieve such…or not.

The ideal of unconditional love is a noble one.
We want to be loved as we are, and perhaps we’d like to see ourselves as capable of selfless love.

Unfortunately, loving unconditionally may set us up for disappointment and shame
when our ideal doesn’t match the reality of how difficult —
or perhaps impossible — it is to love unconditionally.

Children need to be loved without conditions.
As they struggle through life, we need to be unendingly patient —
taking many deep breaths, and offering guidance repeatedly.
Embodying a consistently loving, accepting presence,
we create a climate for safe attachment. As adults,
we also desire and need safe relationships.
Opening our hearts, we want to trust that a beloved partner or
loyal friend will be there when we need them.

However, if we look too fervently and exclusively to one person to fill all our needs
(for acceptance, belonging, meaning),
we may be expecting something that one person cannot provide.
Taken to an extreme, we may echo the silent plea of the narcissistic child:
Love me and supply what I need …
despite how I treat you.

Clinging to a sense of entitlement,
we may fly into blame or rage when our partner’s needs clash with our own.
For better or worse, mature love can only thrive under certain conditions.
Just as a rose needs ample sun, water, and nutrients to survive and flourish,
we cannot expect love to thrive under sterile or hostile conditions.
There needs to be (enough) mutuality.

So the word egocentric came running to my mind.

Having been the chief caregiver of two, who are 2 and under, these past three months
has afforded me my fair share of egocentric encounters.

Me, mine and definitely not yours—even if it is yours.

Innate qualities that must be, like a wild pony, tamed.

We adults all know that, as children, we must learn to share.
And yet we, as children, want to be showered and caressed by our caregivers
regardless of our own actions.
And at 2 years of age or younger, who in the heck is rationalizing their actions??

Rather it appears that it is the reactions of those around us, reactions to our own actions,
that begin to shape us.
Be it stern words.
A rebuff.
A spanking.
Time-out.
Loss of something we want, etc…

All early teaching tools to the taming of self.

Because as adults, we know that in order to “get along” with others, we’ve got to learn to
let go of self and share.
.
As an educator, I certainly had my fair share of educational psychology courses and child development
courses…and as a parent and now grandparent, I have had my fair share of hands-on training.

Sometimes it goes well, sometimes not so much…

We have been told, by those who are in the know, that there are 7 definable types of love.

Now whether or not these are all innate or learned is debatable.

1.Eros–Love of the body
2.Philia– Affectionate love
3.Storge–Love of the Child
4.Agape–Selfless Love
5.Ludus–Playful Love
6.Pragma– Long-lasting Love
7.Philautia– Love of the Self

In his book from 1960, The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis examines this notion of “types” of love.
but rather focuses on just 4 types of love—Storge, Philia, Eros, and finally Agape.

Growing up, as a teenager attending various Bible studies, it was Agape that spoke to me
as to that which is the epitome of unconditional love.

And it seems that some of these “loves” are much nobler than others.

And is that not what we humans should strive for…the nobler of loves?

Which brings us back around to unconditional love.

A higher and nobler love.

Loving without condition.

Loving the sinner and not the sin.

And yet, in the end, there does seem to be limits.

As in we may accept God’s unconditional gift, or we may choose not to.
Plus we must remember that we do not always offer unconditional love back to God–
nor do we offer it to one another.

He loves unconditional, but we do not.

A conundrum.

So I suppose I will continue to muse about this type of love…the
matter of unconditionality and Agape.

pandemics tend to do that…prompting us to ruminate over deep and often hidden thoughts.

So…unconditional love.
Something I want and something I would hope I could one day in turn offer to others.

Yet I fear this is to be a lifelong endeavor…

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution,
or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

Romans 8:35

God cannot be confined by our narcissistic ways

Man wounded by original sin often proves to be egocentric, individualistic, and selfish.
Inspired by Christ, he serves his neighbor.
Without Christ, he knows only his own interest.

Cardinal Sarah


(shelf fungus deep in the woods / Julie Cook / 2019)

Slowly, as the time for a page or two is afforded, I continue making my
way through Cardinal Sarah’s book, The Day is Now Far Spent.

Each page is a new nugget of wisdom to be digested.

That’s another reason why this book takes so much time to read…
Each page gives its reader pause…making the reader stop, ponder, think and
inwardly digest what is being said.

I was waiting on my car to be serviced two weeks ago and was lucky to take in a few pages.
Sitting in the lobby on a rainy afternoon, I would read, highlight, re-read
and then sit and deeply reflect on what I had just read.

I felt my self lucky just to be able to take in a mere single page last night
before going to bed.

The following is what I managed to read last night…

Even if man wanted to, he would never succeed in confining God.

He must instead love, listen to, and adore God and follow Christ.

In our materialistic civilization, man thinks almost exclusively of his own narrow interests.
He sees God as the one who ought to provide him with what consumption does not give him.

God is utilized to satisfy selfish demands.
If he does not answer prayer, they abandon him.
Some even go so far as to blaspheme his holy name.
The religion that ought to connect heaven and earth then runs the risk of becoming a
purely narcissistic space.

Some Evangelical sects excel in this commerce.
They transform God into a pagan idol that is supposed to assure them of health,
happiness, and prosperity and to grant every human whim.
They command miracles, and he is supposed to shower us with then immediately.
This is how the sects ridicule God and mock the credulous persons who have neither
intelligence nor faith.

…the prayer of petition is based on trust in God’s will;
the rest will be given to us in addition.
If we love God, if we are careful to carry out his holy will joyfully,
if we first and most importantly desire his light,
that is, the law of God in the depth of our hearts so as to enlighten our paths (Ps 40:8; Heb 10:5-9),
then he will naturally help us in our difficulties.

revolving

“A man who overindulges lives in a dream. He becomes conceited.
He thinks the whole world revolves around him; and it usually does.”

W. C. Fields

“There are ultimately only two possible adjustments to life;
one is to suit our lives to principles; the other is to suit principles to our lives.
If we do not live as we think, we soon begin to think as we live.
The method of adjusting moral principles to the way men live is
just a perversion of the order of things.”

Fulton J. Sheen

sun_planets
(image courtesy the web)

The gravitational pull is strong.
Yet science purports that it is not actually a force…

“Gravity is most accurately described by the general theory of relativity
(proposed by Albert Einstein in 1915) which describes gravity not as a force,
but as a consequence of the curvature of spacetime caused by
the uneven distribution of mass/energy.
The most extreme example of this curvature of spacetime is a black hole,
from which nothing can escape once past its event horizon, not even light.[1]

Wikipedia

Yet it is by this most assumed force, or consequence,
that we are grounded and anchored to our planet.
For without such a force, or consequence as it were,
there would be nothing to keep us in place….
As we and everything else would be floating around willy nilly,
with nothing solid underneath our feet.

And even our very planet, which holds us each in place,
is locked in its own gravitational orbit…
continually circling around and around a central orb.
Held in the same track and pattern day in and day out, year in and year out…
for nary the slightest deviation would spell complete and utter devastation.

And thus within this solar continuum, man finds himself orbiting…
yet not as a part of the obvious, as atop his own planet…
but orbiting rather, on his very own.
Orbiting and revolving around not so much a sun,
but rather his own sense of self.

Yet what man, in his endless self revolving orbit, has failed to grasp
is that the unevenness of self absorption will lead to an extreme curvature
of awareness,
a deeply flawed and skewed awareness,
thus leading to the formation of a gaping black hole…
A relentless and all consuming blackness resulting in the unequal distribution of
man’s self orbit filled by both ego and pride.
A black hole that will consume man, obliterating his very life’s orbit,
A black hole that will eventually not even permit man’s light of hope to escape…
because by that time, it will be all too late…

the resulting hell of the egocentric…

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive,
disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable,
slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless,
swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.
Avoid such people

2 Timothy 3:1-5

ruffled feathers

It is the character of a brave and resolute man not to be ruffled by adversity
and not to desert his post.

Marcus Tullius Cicero

DSCN4197
(time for molting / a cardinal looking worse for the wear /Julie Cook / 2016)

Now is the time for the Faithful to be both brave and resolute…
for doubt and complacency have blanketed reality.

No longer do we know what is truth or fallacy…
As loud voices are vying for supremacy.

But we have been warned, long before now, that false prophets will abound.
There will be those who come and go offering promises that can’t be kept.
As we’ve been lulled into ignoring honesty

We’ve readily traded Truth for the satisfaction of self…
while the masses have not a clue.

There is neither time nor season to waste…
The stage is set, the events have begun,
yet everyone is too busy posing for the selfies of the egocentric.

Speak up you who hold the Faith.
Stand firm and hold your ground….
Because if you don’t, no one else will…
as all will have been for naught…

You don’t think so?
You don’t agree?
You don’t wish to be an alarmist?
You don’t want to appear intolerant, ignorant or uninformed…

Trouble is…
you don’t have the time to wait and wonder if…

DSCN4195

How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?

Proverbs 6:9