I recently had the honor of listening to a lecture by John Shelby Spong, a well-known retired Bishop of the Episcopal Church, who spoke clearly and forcefully about the role religion plays in spreading prejudice. Having been raised Catholic in the ‘50s, and then frustrating my parents by adopting feminism at age 17, thereby rejecting any religion that is not built upon the equality of all humans, I listened carefully with great curiosity, for I’d heard that Bishop Spong was ‘special’. You could hear the proverbial pin drop among the hundreds in that auditorium as the Bishop, a deeply revered and thoroughly modern man despite his position in his church’s hierarchy, spoke to us about the oneness of all human beings. Even I gave him a standing O at the end. It was magic.
He told us that science has proven that we are all one, for humans share 99.9% of the same DNA. And then there is quantum physics and the oneness principle. Yeah, yeah, yeah….I’ve heard that before and didn’t need to be convinced. So I enjoyed his story telling and overall relaxed presentation style. I especially liked how he spoke in full paragraphs. Very impressive.
But the concept that grabbed my attention and literally put me on the edge of my seat was at the end, when he suggested that we “choose to love wastefully”. Huh? Wastefully? Isn’t waste a sin? (hmm…is that in the ‘mortal’ or ‘venial’ category, I wonder?)
He recommended that in these times of turbulence and fear we generate love for all living things, greeting the details of our worlds with love and compassion, regardless of where the love lands and whether or not it is returned. He used the word ‘wastefully’, I think, to suggest another meaning for the term ‘unconditionally’, because so few of us really understand that idea, having been raised in a world of duality – right/wrong, up/down, yin/yang, etc. This is not a planet of unconditional love. We must create it.
How, exactly, do we love without the promise of it being returned and why does that matter?
Even more importantly, why am I writing about this now?
When our children apply to college, our parental claws come out to protect them from the process of judgment and possible rejection. We don’t want them to be rejected. We don’t want them to be hurt. So sometimes in our zeal to protect, we contract and move into a less loving stance toward everyone in our world. We may envy other people whose children are admitted to dream schools or resent the ones who seem to breeze through the college process without so much as a hair out of place.
This contraction is exactly the opposite of what our children need at this moment.
They need as much extravagant, wasteful love as they can get while they are being exposed to the judgment of strangers who do not know how precious they are.
So this holiday season, join me in my plan to ‘love wastefully’. Give it away. Love anyone in sight. Give them your respect and your care, a smile or kind gesture.
For we also know from life that what we give out comes back to us. Love begets love.