You are watching a father in a mall, walking and chatting with his son; a man in a blue parka on a bicycle loaded with bottles; a girl with an arm load of books running across a street; a speaker at a luncheon, bright-eyed with nervousness; your friend, waiting for news; a old woman alone at lunch, and you are suddenly overwhelmed by inexplicable tenderness.
You are watching the thousands of kind moments, awkward and sublime, ordinary and heroic, played out by people across the glove because of the one thing that makes us human.
You are drawn deeper, and know somewhere within that you are sustained by this one thing; more, you are saved by it. Saved from yourself. Saved for others.
Sebastian Moore, a favourite theologian/poet, says, "Desire is love trying to happen."
If you read Grow Mercy you’ll know that I’m an ardent fan of Chris Hedges as well. In this essay that might as well be a homily—in the good sense of that word—he describes something similar to Moore: "Love is an action, a difference we try to make in the world."
Love is not selflessness. It is the giving of one’s best self, giving one’s highest self unto the world. It is finding true selfhood. Selflessness is martyrdom, dying for a cause. Selfhood is living for a cause. It is choosing to create good in the world. To love another as one loves oneself is to love the universal self that unites us all. If our body dies, it is the love that we have lived that will remain—what the religious understand as the soul—as the irreducible essence of life. It is the small, inconspicuous things we do that reveal the pity and beauty and ultimate power and mystery of human existence.