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From The Chaplain's Desk
September 2009 Chaplain's Corner

By Amy Whitcomb, State Chaplain

  SEPTEMBER 2009 --

This month brings us to the close of our Grange year and the beginning of new ideas for the future.  Let us consider the emotion of love this month.  It is one of the strongest emotions we possess.  Love has been the subject of myth and poetry, the object of study of philosophers and the source of meaning and purpose for many lives.  Millions of people have lived and died for it.

The idea of love has left a wider and more indelible imprint on the development of human culture in all aspects than any other single notion.  Many great figures have argued that love is the single most potent force in the universe.

The great religions point to something more profound, a love that is vaster, more stable, more encompassing, a love that as Saint Paul said “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.”  Or as Buddha said “As a mother watches over her child willing to risk her own life to protect her only child, so we too, with a boundless heart, should cherish all living beings, suffusing the whole world with unobstructed loving kindness.”

The spiritual love, then is something deeper, far more profound than the romantic love that is almost the soul focus of our culture.  This is Christianity’s agape.  And it raises a very important question:  Can love be cultivated?

The great religious traditions suggest that love is an art, a skill, something we can cultivate and develop.  They lay out a very specific road map for how to do so.  This map consists of four strategies.  Reducing barriers to love, such as fear, greed, anger and pride which are seen to be incompatible with love.  Cultivating supporting attitudes and emotions such as gratitude and generosity. Cultivating love directly through prayer and contemplation along with meditation.  And number four, looking deeply into reality, with the understanding that the deeper we see into reality, the more we recognize that, at its heart wisdom merges or unites with love.

At its deepest, we find beautiful words such as these in the Gospel of John.  “God is love, and those who abide in love, abide in God and God abides in them.”


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