What is spiritual love? Many would describe it as agape love. Unconditional love. The love that seems to emanate from an unending source of grace, from a well that never runs out of … well … love.
In my mind, and I think this is supported by many descriptions and depictions of grace, that grace is God’s love communicated. Let me repeat that, grace is God’s love communicated. Grace is love communicated.
As few of us, if any, can truly describe what love is, just examples of it being manifest in our lives, we can agree that it is, next to the essentials of living, the most important element in a fulfilling existence. Love is, after all the vehicle by which we receive that inner peace we all seek in our lives, and for those around us.
What is spiritual love? Well, as we can’t find a good way of defining love, then adding another word as a prefix may make it even more difficult to determine. Or does it? For me, spiritual love is that feeling that is manifest deep inside us when we do something that is not self-serving, but rather serving others. Not when we are doing it just to look good or get our “service hour quota” in for school, work, or our place of worship. But rather, just doing it without intention or expectation. When we respond in a way that is not for ourselves, but for others, without the need for preening or self-congratulation, we may, just may be experiencing spiritual love.
The source of love is deep within us, and we need to tap into it to make our lives, fulfilling, meaningful and loving. If we do not practice love, we do not get better at it, however, love with an agenda or some deliberate intention may not be the same thing. If we are doing it for ourselves, or for others so they see us in a certain light, then it may be self-serving.
The examples included in the poem below, are intended to illustrate me talking to myself about spiritual love. A polite reminder of what I should be doing, observing, and considering as I try and ditch my ego and selfish desires into touch for a while.
Spiritual love is a love without agenda,
A love without expectations,
An intentionless love.
Spiritual love is making the coffee without request,
Smiling at another when you know she needs,
Just another friend without judgment.
It is waking to the day you are dreading, and still leaving your bed.
Spiritual love is an awakening,
Awakening to the feelings of others,
As if they are your own.
Because now, they are your own.
Spiritual love is doing for others,
When they don’t ask,
Or even know they are in need,
For an unexpected friend, in a day filled with darkness.
Spiritual love is letting God’s love out,
Not waiting for God to come visit,
As He was not there all along,
Even if we missed his presence, on an Emmaus walk lasting decades.
Spiritual love is inner peace,
Leaking out controllably,
From a reservoir within I barely noticed;
Only my thirst for its content.
Spiritual love is not controllable,
It has no conditions,
Just mindful understanding of the moment we are in.
Spiritual Love is our blessed Mother,
It is the sun rising,
The rain on a summer’s eve,
Crystals of snow on your face.
Spiritual love is most of all,
Oneness with each other,
Of feeling another’s heart as if yours,
Because it is.
Spiritual love is irreversible; and omnipresent.
Poem, Reflection and Image Copyright 2023 Michael J. Cunningham OFS