Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Trying to Surrender to Love

For a Pagan, I sure quote Christians a lot. Sometimes, hard as it is to believe, Christians say some very intelligent and relevant things.

In her book Everyday Grace, Christian author Marianne Williamson says you are either surrendered to love or to that which opposes love. Goddess help me, but I am not surrendered to love, not nearly as completely as I could or should be.

I am more surrendered to love today than I was last year, and so there is progress and there is hope, but I am not surrendered to love. I may be mischaracterizing Maryanne Williamson’s position here, but Christianity is a dualistic faith: good and evil, right and wrong. Paganism is nuanced, and I think her statement is wrong because it is not nuanced. In that statement there is no room to go from hating somebody to merely being angry with them and from there to forgiveness of them. None of those positions would be acceptable as a surrender to love.

I think and hope the Goddess gives us credit for trying. I fall short of “perfect love” in so many ways. In fact if I can criticize Christians for clinging to absolutes, then I can really pick on my fellow Pagans who use the extremely stupid phrase “perfect love and perfect trust.” Maybe they can achieve such a state, but I cannot. Fortunately, I don’t think perfection is required. I often enter circle in “adequate love and adequate trust.” I figure if I have more love and trust today than yesterday I am doing well.

Actually, I think that spreading the message of love and tolerance is why I was put here. The Big Book tells me that my primary purpose is to fit myself to be of maximum service to God and to my fellows.

So, I am okay if I am not perfectly surrendered. But I have to be willing to be as loving as I can. Going back to the idea I started with, I have to be willing to surrender to love, as best I possibly can, or by default I am surrendering to that which opposes love.

What is love? M. Scott Peck (another Christian) defines love in his book The Road Less Travelled as:

"The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth." This is the first definition of love that I have ever seen that really makes any sense to me at all. I will strongly disagree with Peck’s contention that only humans can be spiritual, I find life spiritual and I think you can love a tree in the sense of extending one’s will to nurturing the tree’s existence, and foster its growth. A tree, to me, does not need to do more than exist to be spiritual. It’s growth is an act of love towards all other life.

Starhawk (at last, a Pagan!) notes that love of self for self is the creative force of the universe. The Goddess’ love for Herself sparked it all and states in The Spiral Dance : "Love for life in all its forms is the basic ethic of Witchcraft." I would agree, the most basic life task for any Witch must be the action of extending love or taking action toward spiritual growth for oneself and others.

My problem is that I would rather sit on my ass and look at pictures of naked women. In essence, I often make poor choices and those choices surrender me to the opposite of love. That means I find selfish things to distract me from what I am supposed to do.

Okay, I have written all of the above to come to the conclusion that if I want to really serve the Goddess, I need to get off my butt and take action to help myself and others grow spiritually. Sounds like a tall order, but it isn’t. I have a cheat sheet that can show me something I can do for myself and others every single day to foster and nurture spirituality and create love. What’s on the sheet?

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.