I thought perhaps Saint Valentine’s Day would be the perfect day to share my love—the newly discovered, unabridged, unmasked, daring, and courageous love that was always there, it is surely the essence of my being. Situations, circumstances, and stories were the mask that covered my being. So the love— while it was there, it was pressed down, bottled up, and reserved for a special someone.
There are things that I know I love. Things like music, and coffee, and trips to places I have yet to experience. I love beaches, and I love the vastness of the ocean. I love the sounds of laughter and the voices of children. I love the presence of friends and family. I love deep and practically conversant interactions. I love full-bodied red wines and good books. I love the bond between my parents, my siblings, and myself. I love the word of God. I love Christmas, and the joy and peace it brings to my heart and to the hearts of others. I love summer, sundresses, tanning oil, longer days and especially the warm breeze of a summer evening. I love people. I love community. I love countries like Senegal, for its soul radiates through the sound of beating drums, and by the sharing of cups of tea on street corners. I love butterflies, both the rare sighting of colors whisking by, and the sensation of butterflies in my tummy signifying the sheer excitement of the moment. All this love encompasses the sense of being happy, even reflecting on them fills my heart and ignites a nostalgia that leaves me smiling.
What I discovered recently was a different kind of love. I experienced a love that is not attached to a sense of being happy, but rather a state of being, or a state of grace. The kind of love that James Baldwin pointed to in The Fire Next Time, “the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.” The kind of love that the apostle Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians 13 “Love is not self-seeking… It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…”
So there was a time I thought I loved fully, and that love for me occurred as unrequited. I decided it was unsafe to acquire such a level of vulnerability with another. There was a time where I thought I loved all humankind. I watched the news intently about a man named Amadou Diallo, who was shot 41 times by the NYPD, as he reached for his wallet to present identification to the officers. Somewhere in between those headlines I made another decision about my capacity for loving humanity. Marianne Williamson judiciously conveyed my experiences in her book, Return to Love “Our fear is not our ultimate reality, and it does not replace the truth of who we really are. Our love, which is our real self, doesn’t die, but merely goes underground.”
What I discovered is that I am Love, any way of being outside of love for me is inauthentic, it is merely a mask that for some time I thought I could not live without, and at that daring moment of discovery, I was so clear that it is also a mask that I can no longer live within.
Love has nothing to do with what or who makes me happy. Love is simply who I am.