Love is the music of the dance. Love is the currency spent on a life well-lived. I think there is so much to learn about love that a lifetime may not be enough.
Two qualities of love seem most prominent: love takes the initiative and love builds up the loved one. When love takes on the meaning of something we think we deserve or something we think we do not, we’re taking a “receiving” stance. Such a stance is basically all about “self.” It is the attitude of our “me-first” world. ‘Here I am – love me, or don’t!’
To take the initiative in love means to forget entirely about receiving and focus purely on giving. Shedding the “self” in such a bold and complete way as explained by Bernadette Roberts in her book The Experience of No Self is pretty much beyond me. But what I do find is this: with an intense and purposeful focus on things which manifest my love for others, the “self” melts away. Many times we do things for the other to express our love because the other has done something loving for us. We respond to their love with our love. This is good. But how much better it is to take the initiative, act first, and do it without any expectations of response or fear of negative feedback – just concern, compassion and love for the other without condition or solicitation.
Then there is the matter of building up the other. This thought precludes taking the initiative for we do not wait to respond to another when we want to build them up. What it means is paying self-effacing attention to the smaller building blocks of love. To support, encourage, cheer on, congratulate, celebrate, and sympathize with the other. This is building up love. Such building up pushes the lover to the wings while placing the loved-one center stage. I cannot help but think of St. Theresa’s “little way” in regards to this. She may not have thought about it this way (and that’s all the more to her credit) but what she did was build up the other and then take the initiative in the seemingly most insignificant and mundane matters of the cloister’s daily routine. If I could but do that I too could lose my “self” in love.