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The Path of LOVE

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

“We can feed our every need.

Start with love, that is the seed.”

– from “Building a New Way” (Hymn #1017, Singing the Journey)

Words & music: Martha Sandefer

This month’s congregational theme is Love. It’s really quite simple, isn’t it?

I stumbled into this theme thinking it was easy and I already knew what it was all about. After all, the Soul Matters folks chose The Path of LOVE for consideration during the month of February, and since Valentine’s Day is in February, we are surely talking about two individuals who are sweethearts, right? (That’s certainly what the florists, candy purveyors, and greeting card publishers would like us to think Love is.)

But I decided to consider what others had to say about Love. I started with a Merriam-Webster online dictionary definition, reinforcing my initial perception by describing love as “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties…sexual desire…affection and tenderness…admiration, benevolence, or common interest.”

Then I dug into this month’s Soul Matters Ministry Packet and discovered Love is far more complex than where I had originally started. We all want to experience and express as much Love as possible in our lives, but so often there seem to be things that get in the way of achieving those goals. “Your task is not to seek for Love,” says 13th century Sufi mystic Rumi, “but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” (Barriers? Surely not within me!) Author and spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson suggests how we might confront such barriers when she says, “Love is what we are born with; fear is what we learn. The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and prejudices and the acceptance of love back in our hearts.”

This month’s Soul Matters Ministry Packet offers a wealth of tools to help us achieve personal growth as we explore The Path of LOVE. Included are Spiritual Exercises, Questions exploring the theme, Wise Words from so many who have written about Love, and links to movies, TV episodes, videos, podcasts, and books.

And music, of course … a LOVE-ly way to walk The Path of LOVE this month! So voluminous is the catalog of songs written about Love that Soul Matters has created THREE musical compilations this month for your listening pleasure and spiritual exploration:

On Love (the “regular” playlist)

Spotify playlist here

YouTube playlist here

Let Me Count the Ways (for sweethearts)

Spotify playlist here

YouTube playlist here

For a Broken Heart

Spotify playlist here

YouTube playlist here

As I write this Reflection, I have not yet had a chance to explore all of the Soul Matters suggestions for this month’s theme. But I did engage deeply with one, and I recommend it to you. It’s Option A of this month’s Spiritual Exercises, which suggests you “Drop Love Into Your Day.” (Great idea, right?) This Option features eight short "Love videos" produced by Green Renaissance, a creative project by a South African couple who seek to help people consider the source of meaning in their lives. The complete set of eight videos is accessible by clicking here, but if you prefer to access each video separately, go to page 2 of this month’s Ministry Packet where you’ll find the video links listed separately under Option A of the Spiritual Exercises.

Each of these videos approaches the subject of Love from a completely different angle; all touched my heart deeply and in unexpected ways. According to one video participant, for example, “The Revolution starts from our own self-worth.” That’s a reminder to me that my inability to love myself can be a major barrier to my being able to experience and express love toward and from others. (Perhaps that is equally true for you?) On this one definition of Love, there are many teachers available. “How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you,” says 21-year-old university student Rupi Kaur in her love-ly essay on self-love. And perhaps you recall the late Whitney Houston singing out to us: “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”

Another wonderful idea I took away from the Green Renaissance videos has to do with manifesting Love in community. As a second video participant put it, “The more we nurture community, the more we’ll create connections, and the happier we become.” For me, this is the essence of life at UU San Mateo, our own beloved spiritual community. As we participate lovingly in the nurturance of our community, we deepen our connections, and we become happier – not only as a community but also as individuals; we take that feeling of experiencing and expressing Love out into our lives, where it is likely to be quite contagious.

The centricity of Love in our own lives and in our community is why I am thrilled to learn that the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is proposing to declare “LOVE” to be at the center of who we are as UUs. This proposal has been set forth by the Study Commission for Article II of the UUA Bylaws, the source of our organization’s principles and purposes. Asking UUs to name words that articulate their personal values, the Commission discovered “Love” was the word mentioned most frequently. In the process of reconsidering our principles and purposes, the Commission has proposed seven values: Love is at the center, with six other related values around Love, in no particular order. This graphic, created by former UUSM Director of Religious Exploration Tanya Webster, is helpful in understanding the Commission’s proposal and the centricity of Love:

In a beautifully crafted reflection, the UUA Board calls love “our common theological core…what can and does motivate us and illuminates our deepest commitments to each other.” This month, please join me in accepting the UUA’s invitation to “reflect on how love shapes you and your communal life,” as we engage in exploring The Path of LOVE.

Seeking more inspiration and wisdom along The Path of LOVE?

Check out the Soul Matters Overview and the complete Ministry Packet.


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