As you may know from a previous blog, my husband and I have been traveling extensively for the 22 years of our marriage. During the last 6 and 1/2, we have been nomads – no home, no car. This year I had planned a 5 and 1/2 month trip to and around Europe. Two weeks before we left, we learned that my husband has bone cancer.
Ron looked good and felt good – aside from increasing pain which he attributed to arthritis. We optimistically believed we had many good months ahead and proceeded with our trip. Sadly, our optimism was not warranted. Ron began to decline soon after we boarded the ship for the transatlantic crossing. Upon arriving in Europe, he struggled through a painful, debilitating 3 weeks before conceding that we had to fly back to the U.S. After one week in the hospital, he was admitted to hospice. And now we wait.
Lingering in the shadow of death with a loved one, everything that is unimportant is stripped away. You soon realize that the vast, vast, vast majority of what we think and do and give our attention to is unimportant.
Life as we know it is a fleeting image. As Buddha said, “A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky.” What are you doing with the miniscule amount of time you have on this earth? What are you thinking, worrying or dreaming about? Who are you spending time with? Who are you loving, forgiving, resenting, praising or complaining about? How are you treating your family, your friends, your co-workers, strangers? How are you treating your body? Are the words you speak kind or cutting?
If everything you think and say and do is not an expression of love, then it is unimportant. It a waste of time. It is meaningless. You may be successful, even rich and famous. But if you do not do what you do with love, all the money and success in the world will not bring happiness, fulfillment or peace.
Though we bandy the word love about, Love is actually too big to comprehend. Personal love is often tainted by neediness, expectation, and dependency. Impersonal love is a shower of light that shines on everything and everyone.
If you could see the ugliest leper with the eyes of Love,
His beauty would out-dazzle in your eyes the starlit sea.
If one drop of the Wine of Vision could rinse your eyes,
Wherever you looked, you would weep with wonder. Rumi
Impersonal love recognizes the unity of life. It has no boundaries, no conditions. Perhaps the closest we come to love in this world is forgiveness, gratitude, patience, kindness, compassion. Oh, that those characteristics would be our goals. Not the perfect body or the ideal mate or the rich bank account. All that is impermanent, meaningless in the end…
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:14
My husband says he loves me now more than ever. In the end, everything else dissolves. Only love remains. The love we have been showered with at this time is overwhelming; far beyond what I could have imagined. I am humbled. My ego says, “I cannot possibly be worthy of this.” But I realize that is the ego’s way of making us shut down and reject love. And so I pray to keep my heart open that the love flowing to me flows through me. I pray to remember and live my life by the knowledge that…
At the end of the road, nothing matters but love.