“I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love.” -Wendell Berry
Love saves us. Although this line of thinking is usually reserved for religious parables, the truth of life bears out that love is the singular source that enlightens, inspires and guides us to the very best of our selves. Ask anyone who has had a brush with death what their final moments were filled with, and it becomes clear that life’s most meaningful reckoning happens in our capacity to give and receive love.
Most of us don’t see the love that is coming towards us in the same way that we often don’t recognize the transformative power of our own loving touch. Getting out of our head and learning to listen through our heart is the well-trodden path of those fortunate in love. As I see it, following the path of relaxing, releasing and reconciling will bring you to a new way of seeing your relationships, feeling the love that is around you and making daily choices to grow the heart of your life. Enhancing your capacity to love is how you will measure your success in life.
The biggest life-changing relaxation method you can cultivate in your loving relationships is developing the capacity to let things be as they are. This starts within us: When we embrace ourselves with all of our imperfections, we have an internal barometer and capacity to offer this grace to the people we love. Probably the single most destructive force in relationships is the tension that builds when you demand your relationship to be what you think it should be, rather than learning to love what it is. There are millions of ways that this non-acceptance plays itself out in every relationship. It always begins within us.
There might not be another word in the English language that evokes as much opening, tenderness and possibility as release. On an emotional level, the ability to let go is the essence from which real intimacy is made. Our human longing to hold onto those we love must mature if it is to survive into emotional release. The experience of release is found in all of the tiny, daily acts of forgiveness that being in a loving relationship demands. It grows in the trust that offers both partners the encouragement and freedom to follow one’s own heart without the fear of abandoning someone else or being abandoned. Developing the courage to let go and release is the way to peace in our selves and in our relationships.
It begins with our selves, this capacity for reconciliation. It is impossible to forgive other people’s trespasses against us when we hold ourselves hostage to our own past mistakes. In fact this endless source of self-recrimination is the fuel for our need to be right and vindicated in relationships. We demand that the world demonstrate a respect for us that we often don’t hold for ourselves and one that usually cannot even be fulfilled. Coming to terms with ourselves: our beauty, our confusion, our missteps and our best intentions is the ground of our thoughts. The degree to which we live in harmony with our own weaknesses and mistakes exists in direct proportion to our capacity to live with those of others.
Love does not fail us; we fail to see our own loveliness and the love coming towards us over and over again. Study the way of loving and commit yourself to relaxing, releasing and reconciling as the way of redemption. It is the only Promised Land waiting for us all.