Love Knows You

When my youngest child was a baby, the sweetest part of my day was putting David to sleep. At fifteen months he had a demanding schedule. There were toilet paper rolls to unravel, dressers to empty, bookshelves to clear, trash baskets to dump on the floor, papers to tear, pans to bang, books to redistribute throughout the house and office, pigeons to chase in the park, food to massage into his hair, a brother’s toys to covet and fight for, and a considerable collection of bright and educational playthings to utterly ignore. By 7:30 at night little David was stumbling through the house like a drunken sailor: cranky, exhausted, and too tired to walk in a straight line.

But when I warmed a bottle of milk and he climbed up into my lap, the transformation was nothing short of miraculous. He would start to drink his bottle, and all the tension and agitation would melt away from his face. As he nestled into my arms, the frantic energy and the frustration disappeared. His body relaxed. He started to smile and hum to himself, and in a few minutes he was asleep. As the look of peace came over him, I found myself feeling wonderfully peaceful as well.

Most little children find a place of comfort, safety, nourishment, and love in their mothers’ and fathers’ arms. It’s the place to go after a long hard day, a reality they can trust. Again and again, they return to this sustaining relationship. Independence is fine. There will be more mischief and exploration tomorrow. But babies seem to instinctively sense how important it is to recharge their batteries and to allow someone stronger to take care of them.

I suspect that meditation and prayer are motivated by the same instinct. In our prayers, we are “nestling in” with reality, adopting a stance that declares we trust what is “out there” and what is “inside.” In moments of meditation we assume a certain confidence, a faith that what is, is ultimately friendly, capable of supporting our life, and able to restore us to our full strength and potential. In a posture of receptivity and dependency, we allow for the possibility that a power greater than ourselves will hold us, feed our starving souls, and give us peace.

Our best prayers are when we can simply turn our faces in the direction of love. One of my favorite Buddhist prayers reads in part:

You may come to this Love, for a few seconds, then go away and do whatever you will.

God’s Love is unchanging.

You may deny the power of Love, to yourself, then curse God to anyone who will listen.

God’s Love is unchanging.

You may become the most despised of creatures, then return.

God’s Love is unchanging.

Go where you will, do whatever you will, stay however long you will, and come back.

This Love is unchanging.

No matter what befalls, no matter what you become, Love awaits you always. Love knows you and serves you. God’s love for you, in a changing world, is unchanging.