Prose by Wayne Visser
~ Love is the ultimate human quest ~Who do you love? What do you mean by love? Few words are more used or abused than love. Love is the name we give to the nameless, the shape we give to the shapeless, the universal heart with many faces. The seeds of love are scattered far and wide, falling even in the darkest, most desolate places. None of us are strangers to love. We have all wandered through love’s territory, seeking refuse from life’s harsh extremes. Some have found places to settle, while others continue their restless search. Love is an oasis in the desert of uncaring, a wellspring where we quench our thirst for belonging. But what is love? Love is a journey, not a destination; a path of discovery, not a once-off revelation. Love begins where selfishness ends. As soon as we start to consider the needs of others, we have set our feet on the trail of love. Love’s ways take us through every conceivable landscape, from the lush forests of contentment to the rocky mountains of desire, from the shady ravines of fulfilment to the scorched plains of jealousy. Sometimes, the road is wide and easy, other times narrow and steep. Often we stray from the track and get lost in the wilderness of self-absorption. But always there is a route back to love. To follow the quest of love, we must be prepared to endure all weather, from storms to sunshine; all climates, from arctic to tropical; all seasons, from winter to summer. For though love’s rewards are great, its sacrifices are many. And though love’s pleasures are full of ecstasy, its pains are wrought with torture. We may recognise love instantly, but practising love takes time and patience, commitment and tenacity. For love relies on understanding. And understanding is a shy creature coaxed slowly from the shadows. The more we understand, the more we trust. The more we trust, the more secure we feel. Therefore, trust is the foundation of love. Trust is letting go of our fears – fears that no one will be there to catch us when we fall, that our vulnerabilities will be exposed and exploited, that we will get hurt when we let our guard slip. Love is trusting even when we have been let down before, having faith even when we have been given reason to doubt, forgiving even when we feel betrayed by those closest to us. For love grows strong over time. Love may begin as a fragile bloom, but it matures into a sturdy tree. In order for love to last, its seeds must be buried deep in our hearts and its roots must be regularly watered with care. Only then will its stem grow thick and its branches high. Only then will it survive the tempests of life –and lashing rain of conflict and the howling winds of tragedy, the lightening strikes of temptation and the forest fires of stress, the disease of jealousy and the rot of indifference. Only then will it flourish and prosper in the sun, giving shelter and joy to all whose lives it touches. Our lives are full of the tender shoots of love, which we choose to either nurture or neglect. Sometimes, we get distracted in our busyness with other things we think are more important. But nothing is more important than love. Sometimes we try to cultivate too many budding relationships, and find our attention spread too thinly on the ground. For love takes energy and caring requires effort. Are there different kinds of love? Just as surely as there are different plants and trees and flowers. The love of a child is not the same as the love of a parent, and a friend’s love is different from a partner’s. Yet are they not all just varied manifestations of the same source – diverse flora nourished by the same underground aquifer of love? And is that source not fed by the universal stream of love? Each day is an opportunity to refresh our spirits with the life-giving water of love. Make sure that you take the time to stop and drink, to quench your thirst, beginning at your own well. For only love will sustain you on your life’s quest.
Wayne Visser © 2005
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