“The desert monks learned that love thrives on the distance made possible by solitude. …Only those who have died to others can be of service to them. Only when we have ceased to need people–desperately, neurotically need them–are we concretely able to love. …Genuine love is ultimately impossible apart from such indifference. Without it, the sinful self remains incurvatusse, as Luther insisted, curved in upon itself in hopeless self-preoccupation. Only the solitary therefore, can truly care for all the right reasons, because he or she has ceased to care for all the wrong reasons. …True love, a love that is unacquisitive and free cannot exist when the person loved is being used as an object for the satisfaction of another’s needs. To love in the sense of agape, is to treat the other person not with any preference for one’s own good but as an equal–indeed as one’s own self. Thomas Merton explained the desert Christians’ conception of love as a matter of taking one’s neighbor as one’s other self. ‘Love means an interior and spiritual identification with one’s brother, so that he is not regarded as an “object” to “which” one “does good.” We have to become–in some sense, the person we love. And this involves a kind of death of our own being, our own self.’ In love such as this, all judgment is suspended. One gives the other person every benefit of the doubt, even as he or she would wish to be considered in return. …Unconditional acceptance of this sort is possible only for people who, renouncing all comparisons of themselves with others, have noting invested in the failure of their peers. Admittedly this idea of compassion as the fruit of indifference may be difficult to grasp in contemporary culture. Popular conceptions of love are often limited to sentimental feelings and delusions of self-denying grandeur. As a result, we often fail to recognize the extent to which all this disguises a highly manipulative bid for our own self-aggrandizement. We are entirely too needy–too anxious about the fragility of our own self-worth–to be free to love.” Belden Lane
“to love your neighbor as yourself is more important
than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
Jesus in Mark 12:33
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Is your self-worth so fragile that you can’t love others well? …are you too needy, too dependent?
- Can you imagine renouncing your right to compare yourself to others, and thus to criticize them?
- Unless we listen to God in solitude, we will always be incurvatusse. What place does solitude have in your life?
Abba, may I only be invested in the success of others.
For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane
Thanks for sharing/following my blog! I appreciate your interest. – Bill