How Does Love Win?

In a comment to Dr. Judith Rich's recent article, "Confessions of a Closet Curmudgeon," I wrote: "Love won," to which Judith responded: "Love always wins, doesn't it?" I envisaged a bumper sticker: Love Wins. Except we don't have many bumpers these days. Not on cars anyway.

So how does love win? How have you experienced love winning in your life? And in what ways?

A friend has a problem with the idea of "winning" because it is associated with competition, loss and failure. I went to the dictionary for the origin of the word "win." Old English winnan [strive, contend] also [subdue and take possession of, acquire] of Germanic origin. Perhaps it is more about the "how" you go about winning that is the issue.

Last weekend, I witnessed love winning in many of the comments written in response to my article "Finding Freedom From Suffering." There were those who were courageous enough to write about their very real causes of suffering, and those who responded with words of kindness, empathy and compassion.

It was slightly reminiscent of a dinner party my then partner and I gave for four friends, a couple and two they had not met before. They sat opposite each other; my partner and I at either end of the table. The conversation took off between them while we served the meal, and looked on. Similarly last week, the threads of comments took on a life of their own.

From Shelley Nomad Chef:

Last year my 32-year-old son, only child, died accidentally. He was born when I was 19. I had never had a day as an adult without him in my life. He was my entire family. I am suffering now, and strangely it gets worse with time ...

I know I make choices every day to get up in the morning, to write and to work. I make choices to invite strangers into my home because most of my friends have avoided me since my son died. I make an enormous effort to distract myself from the pain that threatens to drown me at times. I am a different person that I do not recognize, but perhaps the suffering has attracted different people into my life. Maybe my broken heart has a new softness that others resonate with, strangers who are my new friends. I cannot choose not to suffer, only to live.

The thread of responses she received were heartfelt and inspiring to me.

This reader touched me with his email:

Suffering has helped me look deep into myself. The deeper I get the farther I radiate to the human landscape around me. I begin to become aware of the suffering of others. And when I try to help someone in however a small way I gain strength to deal with my suffering. The depth is bottomless and the opportunities to help is endless. I am beginning to enjoy the journey.

On the journey he describes, love wins.

Love wins in tragic circumstances when one person reaches out to another with words of comfort, or practically lending a hand. Many years ago, following a traffic accident, I was lying in hospital with a back injury, a long way from home. My step-daughter, who was probably about 14 at that time, made the journey by bus and train to visit me, bringing with her essential toiletries and fresh clothes. She sat by my side, radiating a powerful loving presence that restored me in a remarkable way. Do you know people who have a gift like that?

One of my favourite Rumi quotes is:

"Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing there is a field.
I'll meet you there."

That field I recognize as one of loving -- one in which we lift above the conflicts, pressures, fear and drama that characterizes so much of human life. It is one you can retire to in meditation. From the higher perspective of loving, you can see more clearly how to tackle a thorny issue; see the humour in your anger or irritation, even regard an enemy with greater benevolence and understanding.

In England, as a child when you cut your birthday cake you make a wish. My wish was always for "health, wealth and happiness."

Consider how love wins in practical ways here:

HEALTH: Love wins by taking care of yourself -- eating foods that are good for your body, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water; by nurturing yourself mentally, physically and emotionally, being true to yourself and honouring what is true for you. Love wins by being free-flowing, in circulation within the body, and outside of it; releasing the blocks of fear, anger, guilt, resentment, shame and blame; surrendering to your inner peace.

WEALTH: Love wins not solely by the acquisition of property and possessions but in knowing and respecting your innate value and personal values; by sharing not only what you have materially, but also your gifts, talents and other personal resources; by receiving and giving generously when the opportunity arises; being active, open and available; knowing your purpose and fulfilling it; growing your personal assets and qualities; engaging your human spirit in the world.

HAPPINESS: Love wins by doing things which are fun and enjoyable; by expressing love, joy, gratitude and forgiveness; taking time to meditate, or reflect on life's goodness and beauty; assisting others to feel happy; letting go of attachments that no longer serve you; daring to follow a heartfelt dream; telling the truth; sparkling with humour; accepting what is; being present in the moment; smiling; finding blessings in disguise; by celebrating successes, even the small ones; by trusting the innate goodness that sustains all of life.

When you bring the love of your spirit, your compassion, kindness and empathy to anyone, an issue or challenge, you can elevate yourself, see the beauty present and find ways forward more clearly.

What if you do not "win" a stated objective? Love is flexible, open and free to learn from every experience you have. Love wins wisdom. Love keeps moving. So you did not win this one? Keep going. Take one more step towards what it is you want in your heart of hearts.

Continue to strive. Subdue your lesser nature; take possession of and own the greater aspect of who you truly are. The love within you knows how to win what is truly most important and valuable to you.

What does winning mean for you? How has love won in your life? Whose capacity for love inspires you the most? I would love to hear from you. Your comments and wisdom are welcome.

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