Rev. Amanda Ganley
This is part of a monthly blog series written by community members inspired by each month’s theme.
It was so much fun to join Senior Minister, Rev. Amani Malaika in August at the Albuquerque Center for Spiritual Living to speak about Sacred Relationships. The acts of loving and the experience of being loved are at the core of life for every human. Love is both foundational and transformational, always leading us toward a deeper experience of the world around us. So often, the ideas of romantic love, sexual fulfillment and self-care are disregarded by society as selfish, flippant and expendable parts of life, especially if we truly want to effect the world around us. But, how will we ever effectively love and care for something larger than ourselves if we neglect all the small opportunities that we are given to be present to love all the time?
It may feel a bit daunting to remember that there is something bigger than ourselves that loves us unconditionally; in fact it loved so deeply that it brought us into being. Think about that for a second. Have you ever loved yourself, loved life, so much that your strongest desire was to create more love, more life? The Universe literally loved life so much that it exploded all of THIS- our entire existence, into creation! Is it any wonder that we have come here to do the same thing? This love is not only the truth of who we are, it’s what we’re made of and it’s also the gift that we have to give back to Life itself.
In the realm of spirituality, the idea of deep and meaningful connection is most focused on our individual relationships with our Higher Power. We enter into our spiritual practice; prayer, mindfulness, meditation, and the like, in order to honor the Divine that is within ourselves and surrender into the Good that is present and available to us at all times. The thing is, just as I know that the Divine is present in me, I also know that it is present in you and in everyone I meet. So, it serves us to remember that every connection we make with another, is a connection with the Divine as well.
Every sweet smile, warm hug, and act of care that we bring to the experience of life is an invitation to love; to experience it, be the presence of it and share it with another. And it’s not enough to be present to it, it’s also ours to honor it. It’s ours to add value and give respect to all the ways in which we embody and share love. It looks different for every one of us. The ways we choose to express love, to feel connected, and the people we love are plentiful, diverse and beautiful. In fact, that’s why the focus of my ministry is relationship diversity. Knowing that there is no place where God is not present, I want to be ever-present to all of the ways Spirit is loving life through human desires and the experience of our highest and best good as we honor them.
We honor the experience of loving by first being willing to love ourselves, to honor our truth and the authentic expression of the Divine that we have come here to be. That truth is beautiful. It’s also clumsy, messy, confusing, sexual and fun (just to list a few adjectives). All of the ways that we allow ourselves the room to just be this truth, we allow it to be loved, first by ourselves and then by others. And when we honor ourselves in such a deep way, we cannot help but to love others in the same fashion. There is no separation between my truth and yours, they just look different- and that’s what keeps things interesting.
“Love is the conversation between possible, searing disappointment and a profoundly imagined sense of arrival and fulfillment; how we shape that conversation is the touchstone of our ability to love in the real inhabited world.”
― David Whyte
During Sunday Service on Aug 3., Rev. Amani reminded us of the joy and excitement that is present in “new love”, kind of like the new car smell or the way that a day feels after freshly fallen rain! It’s easy to let go into that experience of love. The sweetness that is present in “new love” is like clever packaging on one of those large pieces of furniture that take hours to assemble though. Loving takes effort, communication and understanding. It takes a willingness to add new tools to our toolbox if we don’t have them. It takes self-awareness and self-love to make sure that we’re maintaining our health and strength. Most of all, it takes the desire within us to create something new, something part of us that is not us and the courage to follow through even when we don’t know what the finished product is going to look like.
Love is always ignited in us by some “spark”; an initial attraction to another, an idea, a deep longing. This spark invites us to connection and how we choose to deepen in that connection is how we cultivate experiences and lives as the presence of that love. Necessity may be the mother of all invention but love is what created the need and gave someone the wanting and the wherewithal to do something about it. Ernest Holmes said, “Love points the way and Law makes the way possible”. We are powerful, creative and innovative beings all in the service of Love.
Our instincts, desires and Divine Inner Knowing are all the presence of God within us. Our bodies, hearts and minds are not arbitrary parts of our existence secondary to our soul. This holy essence is housed by the very thing that we are; human. Humans are multi- faceted, multi-dimensional and hardly simple beings. These aspirational concepts that come from our hunger and lust for fulfillment, when met with unconditional love propel us into demonstration and creation. We love life so much that we wake up each day to experience it. And the only way to do that is through these bodies and these bodies think, feel, crave and create. When we create from these appetites without stopping to fear them or judge them, we are creating with love.
These creations show up as love songs and poetry. They are monuments and statues. They’re children, companies, and nations. They are our sexual fulfillment and our relationships. Take a look around. Everything that humanity has brought into being, we brought here because someone loved Life so much that they surrendered to it. Every joy, every heartbreak, every risk ever taken was propelled by love. Every connection we make with another life, from casual hellos to a lifetime of commitment. Every part of nature that we witness, every animal we care for, every bit of information that we take in. All of this was created, recognized and felt because of the presence of love.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
It’s easy to get lost or feel removed from the presence of love as we occupy ourselves with the experience of life. We have busy lives and complex emotional landscapes. We have belief systems, cultural norms, societies ,and all of the parts of those structures that often times serve more to distance us from love than to help us connect with it. But we are never absent from its existence. How could we be? We were born of it and were created to cultivate lives from it. We serve as reminders of this love to one another as we grow, transform and build together. There is always a call from the Divine waiting for us to answer in the form of family, friendship, romance or intimacy. It’s simply ours to be present with as often as we can muster with open hearts and minds.
Love is surprising and perplexing. We often find ourselves looking at something or someone that appears to be outside of ourselves or separate from us in some way wondering “what the heck is this”? What the heck is this deep desire that I never acknowledged, let alone ever thought I would give voice to? Who is this person that I never thought could exist? How has someone I thought I knew so well now a new version of themselves? What is this dream, this fantasy, this road I’m now on? But, love is also the answer to these questions. It’s that thing again, the one that is bigger than us and a part of us whose sacred orgasm propelled us into existence, it’s Spirit, it’s Truth, it’s God and we’re never without it. So, accept it’s invitation, reach for the hand that is outstretched and don’t forget to shout out loud or utter with lovers breath, Oh God, Yes!
Here’s a closing poem for you Lovelies by Mary Oliver.
I KNOW SOMEONE
I know someone who kisses the way a flower opens, but more rapidly. Flowers are sweet. They have short, beatific lives. They offer much pleasure. There is nothing in the world that can be said against them. Sad, isn’t it, that all they can kiss is the air.
Yes, yes! We are the lucky ones.