Big Love, Small Love

Steve Roberts color photo: woman and golden retrievers napping by wood stove

 The universe is full of beautiful irony.  Take love, for instance.

Big Love is among the rarest of human emotions because it is so pure and life-affirming.  Small Love is among the most common of human emotions because it is so messy and destructive.  Yet, it is only through Small Love, what you might call our humanness, that we come to treasure and embrace Big Love, our divinity, our true self. 

How would we know Big Love if we experienced it?  Here’s a quick dozen cues: lightness, unity, expansion, joy, gratitude, openness, freedom, relief, strength, softness, fire and peace.  Any expression of love––given or received––that is not consistent with these experiences is Small Love. 

Small Love loves this but not that; these folks but not those.  Small Loves has rules, expectations, definitions, boundaries, preferences and criteria.  

Small Love loves in order to get something in return: to be liked, desired, appreciated, wanted, recognized (“Oh that Steve, isn’t he just the nicest guy?).  Small Love loves so that things go smoothly; to prevent being rejected; to “matter”; to be “the one”; to atone for some “sin”; to grow self worth––and so forth.  

Big Love just loves.  The so-called object of that love is all but immaterial.  Our sweetheart, Big Bird, the person who irritates us the most: beside the point.  The point is love itself, more and better.

Here’s the coolest part.

If Big Love is the purpose of life, Small Love is the teacher that helps us realize that purpose.  Small Love is driven by fear and unforgiveness.  It’s ultimately exhausting and unfulfilling.  Which makes it a heck of a mentor––wearing us out, showing us what won’t get us where we want to go, patiently reminding us, experience by experience, of the price we pay by ignoring the call of our heart. 

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