On Sunday, a woman stood up in Quaker Meeting and she said, “Love is the first motion”. She was quoting John Woolman. I had never heard that quote before and I have been rolling it around, fingering it like beads in a mandala, focusing my meditation on it.
Love is the first motion.
If I am guided by love, how will my actions be different. How will I respond: to my child, the tired friend, the lonely person on the street. How is this different than when my first motion is frustration, annoyance or fear. What does it take to pause, take a step back and first love. How does it open things up, break up dams.
A colleague and friend did something maddening this week. The what is not important. Really, at the end of the day it was not a big deal but it pushed my buttons in 47 different ways. It was presumptuous. But her motivation was only pure love and knowing that it made it so much easier to let go of my issues and sink into the kindness of what she was doing, and then gently move in to express my different view. I could have, might have, almost hurt her terribly had I let my first action be frustration, anger or criticism. When love is the first motion, we can speak kindly, openly and let go of the stuff that isn’t really all that important and create shifts that make room for us all.
Very soon I will be turning 40. I am not freaked out by the number. But I am profoundly aware of the milestone. Something about those numbers that end with zero can prompt one to look forward and backward and side to side. Something about a number that ends with zero is prompting me to look back at what I have learned over the last ten, damn…40 years of my life. Something about a number that ends with zero can make me question what I have, what I am, and why it is not what I had hoped it would be.
Some interesting and odd coincidences have sprung up like birthday gifts from the Gods this week. Sweet opportunities to touch pieces of my childhood and hold them close. In doing so I have realized that it is a myth to bundle up our experiences and put them in boxes labeled “long ago”. We live them every day. The people we loved stay with us, even after they have gone, even if we haven’t thought of them in years. Every kindness lingers and has the power to guide us. We breathe in love and it changes us bit by bit.
Once upon a time, someone taught me to chop carrots. Once upon a time someone taught me to kiss. Once upon a time, someone played a beautiful song for me. Once upon a time someone held me for what seemed like an eternity. Once upon a time, someone giggled with me all night. I am still able to access the joy of all of these moments. Everyone of these moments is a cornerstone on which my joyful life is now built.
All these moments–they still exist, like soundwaves that keep bouncing back and forth, back and forth, back and forth–amplifying, shifting. Here.
Understanding this, I am suddenly unabashedly aware that that there is no past, no future–just the present. There is never too early, or too late. This moment is the perfect one, the only one that exists. Seize it, conquer it in the name of kindness–let love be the first motion, the starting point, the beginning.
If I have learned anything it is the wisdom of this beautiful simple phrase. Love is the first motion. It is the last motion too. May it be my every in-breath, my every exhale.