Climate of Change - Shouldn’t our love for one another be sustainable?

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During the month of February, there are several opportunities to spend time with family and loved ones and tell them how important they are in our lives.  But, for many folks it can be a lonely time – a time of great sadness for love lost, separation and goodbyes.  Mother Theresa is quoted as saying: “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”

This weekend, I pondered the idea of love and the emptiness people experience when their love for one another somehow withers.  Whole families disintegrate; close ties fracture, and those once loved are no longer welcome in close circles of friends.  I realized how lucky I am in a long term marriage with many long lasting friendships with people who continue to support and sustain me no matter what. There is nothing as precious as unconditional love.

Love for one another isn’t something that we can write into a plan and deliberately set targets and performance measures to review each year – or is it?  Is love just a contract, like any other between two people that can be broken? When citizens got together in 2009, we wrote love for one another into the Cochrane Sustainability Plan. All nine pathways to sustainability speak to our love of each other; of our natural environment; and of our unique history and culture.  When we said that we “are a caring community that celebrates together” – we spoke of deep connections built on love for each other.  When we wrote that we would support our local business community, we did that out of love.  When we strived to be a community where everyone had a home to go to, we did that out of love. For each of those commitments, we set performance measures and targets on paper – having faith, hope and love in one another that the plan would spur each of us to make Cochrane the most sustainable community possible.

But, now we rarely acknowledge the plan or the commitments we made a decade before. How can the community sustain these high level concepts so embedded with complex meaning, when as individuals we have so much trouble sustaining love in our marriages and families?  Some of the wisest people who ever lived tried to teach us the true meaning of love.  In fact, there are over 30 Bible quotes directly related to the topic.  But, probably the most revealing of those is Corinthians 13, quoted below:

“1 Corinthians 13:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing,”

Of all my thoughts this last weekend on whether or not love is sustainable in today’s society, perhaps the most enlightening quotes I found were from Kahil Gibran: “Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love. And think not you can direct the course of love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.”

As we move into February, the time to embrace community, close friends, families and loved ones, I wish you unconditional love that only changes in context and meaning as you change over time.