The Way to Love

Dec 07, 2020

I have been reading and rereading and taking notes on a little book called The Way to Love: The Last Meditations of Anthony de Mello. It is a book full of wisdom about love and what it takes to love like God loves. Anthony de Mello was an Indian Jesuit priest and psychotherapist who wrote about the role of attachments in our lives: “Everywhere people have actually built their lives on the unquestioned belief that without certain things—money, power, success, approval, a good reputation, love, friendship, spirituality, God—they cannot be happy.”[1] These attachments to what the culture/the world says should be our goals actually stand in our way of happiness and joy and of loving like God loves. And when we acquire any of the things our culture believes bring us happiness, it is a fleeting, momentary pleasure that in the next moment causes us to want more and more of the things or money or success, so we are left with just this void that things, especially things of the world, cannot fill.

 

This little book has been a real gift to me and I highly recommend it. He suggests that we get to know these culturally promoted desires in ourselves, so that we can let go of any attachments we might have in order to experience the qualities of real love, as God loves:

  • Indiscriminate—falls on everyone
  • Gratuitous—asks nothing in return
  • Unselfconsciousness—unaware of itself
  • Freedom—non-attached, no tit for tat[2]

 

The attachments to the world and all that it teaches us are exactly what stand in the way of our ability to love God with all of ourselves and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We cannot love if we are attached to money and things and success and recognition. These desires can never be filled, so they are a constant in our lives underpinning all our efforts in this life. Until we can look them squarely in the face and realize how imprisoned we are by the culture’s ways into a certain way of being and doing, we will be their captive. And we will not be able to be love or experience real happiness, joy,  in this world.

 

“To be in the state called love you must be sensitive to the uniqueness and beauty of every single thing and person around you. You can hardly be said to love what you do not even notice; and if you notice only a few beings to the exclusion of others, that is not love at all, for love excludes no one at all; it embraces the whole of life; it listens to the symphony as a whole, not to just one or the other of the musical instruments.”[3] Love is indiscriminate.

 

God’s love is giving out to others and not expecting or wanting anything in return. Without any attachments in us to our own needs, we are free to give endlessly, freely with no expectations. We are not building any more attachments within ourselves as we give out God’s love. And we find joy in the freely given self.

 

Not only are we not expecting anything back from those we give to, we are totally unaware of ourselves in the giving. It is such a natural act, one not sullied by any expectations from our own selves. Look at how God sends His sun to shine and His rain to fall on everyone equally, without any demands on His part.[4] So we are to give, also, unselfconsciously.

 

And that is the freedom for us in giving as God gives. We are not responsible for nor responsible to anyone. We are just acting as servants of God, free of any burdens that normally accrue from our human interactions. This is true freedom.

 

As Anthony de Mello makes clear in The Way to Love, our love for God means that we are freely giving God’s love to everyone we meet, in the purposeful way He has designed for us. There is no entitlement, no power over, no obligations, no entanglements, nothing of any human way of doing things in our giving. And we are free to give just as we have been given to by God. Amen!

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Questions to ponder over the week: Have I asked God to teach me to love as He loves? What do I most need to give up in order to love indiscriminately, gratuitously, unselfconsciously, and freely? Do I feel God’s love for me in His freely giving way? What is my heart’s desire in regard to being able to love?

 

Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who love everyone without any expectations or conditions or judgments or prejudices. May we love whole-heartedly. May we love God with all of ourselves, warts and all.

 

 

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Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com, for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life. New posts every month. 11.16.20s titled “The Very Real Challenges of the Spiritual Life.” Sign up to receive these as monthly emails at the deepening website.

 

 

 

 

[1] Anthony de Mello, The Way to Love: The Last Meditations of Anthony de Mello, Image Books, Doubleday, New York, 1992, p.20

[2] Ibid, p. 106-109

[3] Ibid, p. 44-45

[4] Matthew 5:45

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