Singing in the Rain
What would your life look like if you sought each day to dance the dance of love? This is the question that Rev. Joanne asks us to consider as she begins a new six week series entitled, Dare to Dance Again. Over the past thirteen months, many people have experienced a new or heightened sense of fear, malaise and depression. Give the current global conditions, this is not unexpected. During so called “normal” times, most people face a variety of challenges that life as a human being can bring such as loss of a loved one, personal health challenges or loss of their job. When we are experiencing such loss, there is a natural and normal grieving process that begins. We go through the five stages of grief1, as outlined by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, but during that process of “feeling low,” something will occur that makes us smile again.
Humans are complex, and often contradictory, beings. When we are in a grieving process, we may think that we must, out of necessity from or respect to the thing we are grieving, feel sad or reserved and that everyone around us must know that. On the other hand, we may think we need to hide what we are experiencing. How often have you asked someone, ‘How are you doing?” and they respond, ‘I’m fine.’ If we care to take even a slight notice of the non-verbal communication in such an interaction, we can often quite easily discern when saying “I’m fine” does not mean that they actually are fine. In much of American culture, asking ‘how are you?’ and responding ‘I’m fine’ is nothing more than a generic greeting similar to saying hello. In other cultures people do not ask that question unless they are prepared to actually listen to an honest response.
Part of Daring to Dance, Rev. Joanne explains, is “dancing” between and among these three perspectives – allowing ourselves to smile even within a time of challenging experiences, showing our upset overtly, and pasting on a smile. She tells us that it is perfectly okay to celebrate the Divinity that is here present no matter what is occurring, and it is also okay not to feel that sense and not feel as though they have to paste on a smile.
Father Richard Rohr, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation2 defines love as a sense of “givingness.” Rev. Joanne tells us that until hearing Father Richard define love this way she had often thought of it in a number of ways, such as recognizing that each person is divine or being able to see the good in any situation. Often in her life, she explains, when coming from a place of love she doing so in not “givingness” but in “withholdingness.”
Reading from A Course in Miracles3 by Helen Schucman, Rev. Joanne says that according to that text there is only love and a call for love, and that we cannot answer a call for love with another call for love. Schucman defines a miracle as any time that love is received and exchanged and a transformation occurs and is a miracle no matter how large or small the exchange, as long as love is given.
Unity teaches that God is Love and Love is God and that there is nothing we need to do to earn that love and that it is never withheld. Of course, Jesus exemplified the expression of Divine Love. In the Gospel of John we read:
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life - only to take it up again.
Metaphysically interpreted, Rev. Joanne explains, the “good shepherd” is the Christ Spirit in each of us, and that God continually “gives” this Christ Spirit to each of us. The sheep represent the individual thoughts we hold in our minds, and sometimes these thoughts leave the protection of the good shepherd, but when they do we can always turn again to the Christ Spirit within to “gather in” those thoughts back into the fold.
Taking an example from her own life, Rev. Joanne tells us that when she may be angry or upset with another person, instead of responding with love in givingness, she sometimes she may react from a place of withholdingness. That person did or said this thing to me, so I will “show them” by not doing or saying a thing they want. She says that this is reacting to a call for love with another call for love.
A withholding reaction may be a call for love, but the event to which we are reacting may itself not be a call for love. It is important to realize that just because we are upset, it does not automatically mean we are right. We may react negatively and at the same time be factually incorrect, have misunderstood the words or actions of the other person, or are projecting our own fears and insecurities into the situation. In situations where we are not correct, we must answer our call for love with love from ourselves. To do so, we must recognize and acknowledge the truth of the situation. Only then can we move forward in a healthy way, first with ourselves, and then in relation to another person.
In Lesson Six of a series of lectures on practical metaphysics, Unity Minister and author Eric Butterworth (1916-2003) had this to say about the nature of love:
Love is an inner power not an object. Our need is not to be loved, but to be love, to express love, to radiate love. God is love, God is me and I am that love expressing in and through my loving heart. My love is my attunement with the cosmic flow. The great need is not to be loved but to be love. I am created in and of love. It is my nature, the root of my being. I am the very activity of love in expression. I have within me all the love in the universe.4
Giving from a place of love, Rev. Joanne explains, also includes creating healthy boundaries so that we do not add to the dysfunction that may exist within any relationship. We can do so in a way so the we do not withhold ourselves, but continue to give of ourselves to the other person. Healthy boundaries sometimes include complete separation from a relationship. Even in such situations, we can continue to give love to the other person by recognizing that every person has the Divine Christ within them.
In reference to Earth Day 2021, April 22, Rev. Joanne speaks of a young activist named Greta Thunberg and her commitment to environmental issues. She says that Greta is an example of acting from a place of love and givingness. That may very well be true, no one can know the heart and mind of another. But just as reacting in offense, hurt, and defensiveness does not mean we are right, so too does acting from a place of love, however honest and well meaning, guarantee that we are correct. Those who are diametrically opposed on any topic, not just environmental issues, can both be acting from what they believe to be a place of love. Both can be wrong (to one degree or another), but one must be.
Another example is of parents who choose to discipline their children with spanking (not physical abuse that causes injury) believe that they are acting from a place of love, because not to teach their children that their actions have consequences, is actually withholding loving parental guidance. Other parents may believe that spanking is the wrong thing to do for equally well meaning reasons. Who is right? The point is, that acting from a place of love can only be defined by what any person holds in their own heart and mind to represent that. Good intentions are certainly important, but the effects are what determine whether our actions were the correct thing to do.
It is difficult to balance acting from our inner guidance with the reactions we may receive from others. We should still make every effort to tap into that guidance, but be open to the listening to, and working with, others who may be able to help us make adjustments that will be helpful to our successfully working toward facilitating the positive changes we wish to see in the world.
Now Go and Be the Light.
Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Philippians 2:2
What would your life look like if you sought each day to dance the dance of love? What would your life look like to dance to the rhythm of the love of God moving in your life? Take time each day this week to contemplate these two questions. Contemplate the ways in which you can serve others in love. Set an intention on how you will dance to the rhythm of Divine Love this week. Take action each day to be the rhythm of love expressing.
1Kübler-Ross, Elizabeth, On Death and Dying, Routeledge, 1969
2Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, NM. www.cac.org
3Schucman, Helen, A Course in Miracles, Viking Press, 1976. There is no author listed for A Course in Miracles, although it was “scribed” by Schucman as a direct revelation from Christ.
4Butterworth, Eric, Practical Metaphysics, Lesson Six, Love; https://www.truthunity.net/audio/eric-butterworth/practical-metaphysics/love