Thursday, April 07, 2005


  • Just before we said goodbye.

  • I have been learning some very bittersweet lessons about love.

    Right before our cat Smokey died, he taught me a little bit about love. I'm very sure I have much, much more to learn and my pets, my family, my 12 step group, my coven, my blog readers and my fellow bloggers and my are all going to be my teachers.

    I used to think that with a pet, love was simply them curled up next to you, purring or wagging their tail depending on species. But while I think that is one way love is expressed, it is a pretty shallow way. Smokey taught me that love is wanting to be with you even when it causes physical pain to get to you and they go ahead and do it, just to be near you. There is love involved there.

    From my side I learned that love from a pet owner may be watching your cat take a crap on the rug right in front of you. We just paid to have that rug cleaned, yet I did nothing to stop Smokey. Why? Because Smokey was always a fastidiously clean cat; I would even say he took pride in it. For him to do that, well, I knew he could not control it. I could see he was shaking and in pain. So, really, there was nothing to get angry about, there was just sorrow. It could be picked up, the carpets could be cleaned, everything would be fine.

    That's how I learned that changing diapers will be no big deal. You do things like that when you love someone. It's that simple. When you love someone and they cannot keep themselves clean, you don't bitch about it, you just do it.

    My friend Jim, who died this past January, also taught me about love. Christian author and psychiatrist, M. Scott Peck defines love as extending oneself for the spiritual growth of another. Jim did exactly that with his final message to me. It was clear he was in pain, could barely speak and yet he pulled together the energy to give me a message that he felt was terribly important. I try to honor that message because I have a clear view of how vital he felt that message was.

    I watch my wife struggle with the discomfort of pregnancy and am learning about what she can expect from labor and I am overwhelmed. Mothers learn a lot more about the work of love; physical, mental and spiritual-long before dads do. Love is hard and it does take work.

    With apologies to my fellow Pagans, I am going to look at the Bible for a second here. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he quoted two commands from the books of Moses: Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all our mind (Deuteronomy 6:5) and Love your neighbor as you love yourself (Leviticus 19:18). For a long time I was off the hook on that second one; filled with self-hatred I did not love myself and spared none for my neighbors. But I have no quarrel or disagreement with the words of Jesus. Those commandments do seem to the the basis of everything that really matters.

    It is interesting that a professional con artist by the name of Bill Wilson (who was not particularly religious, even after a profound spiritual experience) developed a program whereby alcoholics could stay sober based on these commandments. First, get a God. Doesn't matter what kind or what name you have for God, just get one, okay? Now, start cleaning up the mess that is your life. Do it with the help of another person who has problems similar to yours. Once that is done, go about making amends to those you have harmed. Treat them as you would wish to be treated, were you in their position. Go about helping others, asking for nothing in return. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    In essence it boils down to: do the work required to get to know and love God (again, you choose the flavor). Do the work needed to get to know yourself and make yourself loveable. Then go and treat others with respect and compassion and you learn how to love yourself and them in the process.

    What I have to keep in mind, and this is very hard, is that this is the entire purpose of my life. This is why I am here.. It is easy for me to get confused and think that I am here to check out hot chicks or to get a new iMac G5. I am easily distracted. I also lose the path when it becomes so important that candidate X wins. It is not the candidate; it is the message. We all must carry the message.

    What is the message? Learn to love yourself; give that love to others. Simple but very hard to do.

    Good Morning Great Goddess Brigit; my name is Andy and I am an alcoholic. I have been kept sober one day at a time since Imbolc of 2001. This is through nothing I have done; it is by Your grace and Your grace alone. I'd like to take this moment to thank You for my daily reprieve. Today is a good day to be sober.

    Please, Goddess, be with me today, all through the day and help me to stay sober all day long. Show me Your will for me and grant me the power to carry that out. Thy will, not mine be done. Be welcome in me and to me; body, heart, mind and soul. Blessed Be!