There is one weapon that can be leveraged to defeat the pandemic illnesses that have brought all us children of Africa to the collective brink. And that weapon is love.
Before you think you know what I am talking about, go grab a cup of Morenga tea and get comfortable.
Before any intelligent discussion of love can be had, the word must be understood in the same context by all of us. For the purpose of this discussion, we define love as the following:
Love is the will to extend ones self for the purpose of
nurturing ones spiritual growth, or the spiritual growth of another.
The definition that I use here is imperfect – I dont think anyone has ever come to a universal definition, and I don’t pretend to know that there is one. There are dozens (hundreds?) of definitions of love, but in terms of “loving” one another, the above is the working definition we will use. To illustrate the act of loving, I will give you a personal example from my childhood.
My Grandmother’s Garden
I remember watching my grandmother in her garden in front of the house. She would wake up early and tend to the soil around each and every plant, turning it and loosening it, and replacing the used soil with dark, rich compost. She would do this until the entire flower bed looked brand new. She would then give each and every flower and bulb her full attention; gently removing the dead leaves and patting the blooms. She would occasionally talk to a flower that surprised her by growing exceptionally well, or by surviving a trying period of heat or frost with splendid new growth. My grandmother truly loved her garden, because she gave it her attention, her care, her concern, and her effort.
It was because my grandmother gave me with the same care, attention, and effort as she gave her garden that I knew she loved me. When I bloomed as a child – with a good grade, or an act of responsibility- she would delight in me. Occasionally, she would remove some “dead leaves” from my butt, but had she not done so – if she had let parts of my personality continue to rot – it would not have been a labor of love. The same discipline that she gave to her garden, she would give to her grandson.
…her love gave her the energy to persist…
My grandmother didn’t talk about how much she loved her garden (or her grandson), she showed it. Gardening – like raising her grandson – was not a chore for her; it was an expression of her love. She paid attention, she gave discipline, she was there during summer droughts, winter frosts, and springtime floods – her love gave her the energy to persist. She rejoiced in what was beautiful, and gently removed what was impure. She didn’t want anything from her garden, but to see it healthy and in bloom. She didn’t want anything from her grandson but to see him rise into his potential.
Do you love your people? Do you extend yourself for your people – even when it hurts to? Can you persist through the seasons? Do you want only to see your people reach their full potential, and are willing to follow that desire with tireless effort?
- Love is not a feeling: feelings come and go. Love persists
- Love is not demanding: Demand comes from selfishness, and is only concerned with what others can do for you. A gardener does not demand her garden to grow. She nurtures it and tries her best to help it weather the seasons.
- Love is not fear, anger, jealousy, spite, vengeance, or laziness.
- Love is work without a beginning and without an end. If you are not willing to do the hard work of listening (that means with your mouth closed and heart open), of understanding, of paying full attention, of “patting leaves in bloom”, of rising at midnight or returning phone calls – then you don’t love
- Love is discipline that comes out of concern…not out of anger. Love doesnt slap, whip into submission, demean, or degrade. The power of love is not equivalent to the power of the lash.
- Love is a decision, a free exercise of ones will. You love because you want to, not because you have to.
Anything less than true love is fake. You know it, your children know it, your significant other knows it, and your people know it.