Give Love: Life Lessons from a Trappist Monk #10

To be filled with Love is one thing, but it must also be given away continually. The more you give the more you get. Never let the ball stop with you. Make an effort to give love and to give love and to give love. Stop giving and it turns sour. –excerpt from Brother Rene letter, December 27, 2003.

I have often thought that the reason I was born was to love. There’s a mystery to love. Love is the most intangible and tangible element. Love is raw, physical, concrete. Love is lived in actions.

Yet, love is also an energy and a force that has no boundaries or limits. It’s an impulse of the heart. It’s romantic. It’s spiritual. It’s beyond our understanding and our comprehension. It is a force that drives us, compels us, directs us. It’s the beat of our hearts. It is also where we encounter and meet ourselves every day.

“To love is to listen,” I have heard the gentle voice of Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, say many times. “It may be our body calling for our attention, or a loved one asking for our presence.”

A few years ago, I developed toe tendonitis. It happened during my monumental year, my turning from 49- to 50-years old, the year I imagined doing something grand, like finally traveling to India.

But one afternoon, after enjoying a long walk around the streets of San Francisco and sketching the details of Victorian houses, my left toe felt sore. I thought it was just tight, so I stretched it out and applied some ice. Yet, the next day, after my usual swim, my toe was in agonizing and persistent pain.

I went to a podiatrist, and for one year, I had to contend with this condition, which had me wearning an orthopedic boot for months and using crutches.

Going to work was demanding, and simple things like driving and grocery shopping required extreme patience. Walking for pleasure was out of the question. Finally, however, through the passage of time, sessions of accupunture, and the receiving of love both from myself and from those around me, I slowly healed.

What did my toe teach me about giving love? It taught me that love is a lived experience. Love comes from the infinite, a source we cannot claim knowledge of but know from experience. And love is expressed through each one of us, through our hands and hearts.

We are born with love, so why do we under-utilize this resource? We act as though love is limited, a commodity, something we have to find, or earn, or try to get. But it’s already being fufilled in each one of us through our breath, through our heart beating, through our willingness and desire to reach out and connect to the warm, honey-filled treasure of the life we are born into experiencing.


Reflect on this stanza from Psalm 37–

Desire only Love and walk your days
with the Beloved;
you will radiate with joy, blessing
others with Love’s presence;
you will know not loneliness with
Love’s Companioning Presence

–taken from Psalms for Praying, Nan C. Merrill

• Notice how love is a healing force in yourself, in your life, and all around you.

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