Today, feel Love as a power and a stillness. Rest in that power. Rest in that stillness. Feel the power and stillness filling your thoughts. Feel it feeling the room you are in. Feel it filling the spaces between you and others. Feel it surrounding us all.
Some of us have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. We imagine that other people's health and happiness rests entirely on our shoulders. (Often, some experiences or dynamics in the past, perhaps in our childhood, enforced that belief.)
Today, know instead that we are all embraced in Love. Love is the caretaker. Love is wisdom. Love is strength, courage, insight. Love is the power at work in each of our lives. Love meets each of us, just where we are. Love does give us the opportunity to be useful, but not by our own power - as a reflection of Love's care for creation, buoyed and humbled by Love's energy. Sometimes, Love asks that we let go of the story of ourselves as a responsible caretaker and accept care from others.
Father Greg Boyle, who serves gang members, tells us that our goal is not "perfecting" ourselves "or becoming a 'good' person." It is about "making [our] already-good love more perfect and real."
Today, begin with the assumption that you are, right now, overflowing with already-good love. Your job is not to punish or discipline yourself into goodness, but to recognize, savor, cherish your already-good love in yourself - and others.
In his book Barking to the Choir, Father Gregory Boyle tells about a reformed gang member who is on a panel presentation. The young man is nervous and has written some comforting words to himself on a pad of paper. Two of them are: Take your time and Don't hold back.
Today in your actions and interactions, slow down and be present. Give from the fullness of your heart and experience, without fear of judgment, vulnerability, or depletion.
I have had a superstition sense that if I don't pray first, things in my life won't go well. But the actions that we take, in line with our spiritual values and hopes, ARE prayers. As prayers, those actions invite and reveal the power and presence of Love.
This does not mean that time for study, reflection, and traditional prayer isn't important. That is a great source of nourishment, enlightenment, and comfort. But our actions are prayers, too. And they carry effective, spiritual power.
We don't only pray with our words. We pray with our feelings. We pray with our actions.
Today, know that your actions ARE a form of prayer. Be aware of what you are praying for. If you are praying for more rest, rest. If you are praying for more of a sense of companionship, you might say yes to invitations. If you are praying to do your job well, you might spend some time improving your skills. If you are praying for more tenderness or patience, demonstrate that today in your interactions with others - and yourself. Live your prayers.
Father Greg Boyle, founder of the gang intervention program Homeboy Industries, writes in Barking to the Choir:
"We must try and learn to drop the burden of our own judgments, reconciling that what the mind wants to separate, the heart should bring together. Dropping this enormous inner burden of judgment allows us to make of ourselves what God wants the world to ultimately be: people who stand in awe. Judgment, after all, takes up the room you need for loving."
Today, know that is your job to love, not to judge. This does not mean that we don't take a stand for principle, try to improve a messy situation, or protect ourselves or others. It does mean acknowledging that we never know someone else's full story, that we are all in need of compassion, that our opinions are always based on limited perspective--and sometimes stem from a small-heartedness and a limited sense of possibility.
Likewise, we need to soften that inner judge who is so hard on ourselves and practice compassion. It is unconditional love and tender affection, not harsh judgment, that nourishes and supports us blossoming into our fullness.
Father Greg Boyle, who founded the successful gang intervention program, Homeboy Industries, writes in his new book Barking to the Choir:
"God is too busy loving you to have any time left over to be disappointed."
Today, know that Love does not see it as her job to measure you against a standard and find you wanting, to compare you to others, to catalog your failures. Love is too full of the pleasure of loving you for that.
Father Greg Boyle, founder of the successful gang intervention program Homeboy Industries, says in his newest book Barking to the Choir that we should stop asking of God, "What do you want from me?" and instead ask "What do you want for me?" Then he answers, "for starters: life, happiness, and peace: My joy yours. Your joy complete. That's it. Nothing less than that."
Today, switch your perspective. Instead of imagining that you can't live up to Love's standards, can't hear or understand what Love is asking of you, ask what Love wants for you. Know that the answer is grace, abundance, affection, a sense of purpose, joy and play. Feel Love on your side - a wise, kind, whole parent who doesn't want from you but for you.
The Bible, II Chronicles, says "The Lord is able to give you much more than this." Feel this truth transforming any place in your thought that needs more freshness, more of a sense of a possibility, more a sense of your own worth or efficacy. A relationship that feels stuck. A job that feels unsatisfying. Places your thoughts get stuck in rumination. A health issue. You don't need to outline how Love will work. Just feel Love as a power that awakens you.
Tarn Wilson is the author of the memoir The Slow Farm and numerous essays. You may read more of her work at tarnwilson.com.