By Hakim Abdul-Ali
These are still some very difficult times that the entire world-at-large is facing due to the dreaded coronavirus. Unless you’ve been on a spaceship to nowhere in particular in the last six months, you know undoubtedly what I’m referring to.
In today’s message, I’m going to delve into a feeling and an enlightening understanding called love. As I attempt to gather my thoughts and explore this topic, I’d like you to think of its uniqueness in all of its textural attachments.
Even though I’m a brother of color, many of my poignant references about love will come from various “hue-manistic” mindsets and they apply to all ethnicities. In my mind the awesomeness of love is unparalleled, and there’s no need to deny anyone or grouping entry into the intoxicating realms of fondness and affection.
Being straightforward, my first concept of love was when I saw it displayed by father and mother toward each other. I never really applied anything special to their union growing up, but long after my father died, which was in 1964, my mother said something that sticks with me to this day.
I had come down to visit my mother in Charleston, South Carolina, I believed it was in 1982, from my home in Newark, New Jersey, and I asked my mother a rather direct question. I asked asked her after she had been a widow for so long, why she had never married again.
My mother looked be straight in the eye and said, “Boy I don’t know why you’re asking me that question. But if you really want to know I’ll tell you. You see, the reason why is that no one could show me the respect, kindness, trust and love that your father showed and gave me, so don’t ask me about that again.”
From that moment on I never, ever did, but what she said, and the manner in which she said it to me, has left a permanent impression of what the real meaning of real love was and still is about. My parents were unique in so many ways, and their mutual love and respect for each other established in my soul an exquisite onsite example of what the power of love in all of its flowing habitats was all about.
In many ways, my mother, who died in 1985, left an indelible monument in my mental psyche that love is authentic when it’s real, and no one should ever take it for granted. My parents acted as though were best friends, instead of husband and wife, because they were that and more to each, especially, when times were rough, tough and uncertain.
My mother was a renowned schoolteacher, who spiritually believed that love is what you practice, and my father was an artist, who was very quiet and ever-so-respected by all who knew him. Mom and dad had something that you, unfortunately, very rarely see today in many quasi-married souls’ marriage, and that was they had “trust” in one another and no one could come between them at any time.
I believe that when they married, they literally took their vows of “until death do us part” so seriously that they never tried to change one another, rather they respected each other with such esteem that it was clear that they had a special bond. Sometimes, I wonder why so many troubled relationships today crumble and fall to pieces.
Could it be because one, or both, soul(s) forget that a marriage is based upon consensus respect and most importantly trust for and in each other.
Some folk don’t realize that marriage is a sacred bond that should spiritually unite two souls forever, even when things get a little trying, as it most certainly will and does.
It’s called life. No spouse should ever take another spouse for granted, and when that happens there surely will be a slow, dwindling and eroding episode for one another, and everyone involved becomes a loser in love’s eternal resting place.
In writing this, I know that, e.g., in the East and in numerous other spiritual traditions, it’s believed that marriage is half of one’s religion. That is some serious stuff to contemplate and discern, especially, when you see misery and unhappiness hanging around so many fickle couples’ mindsets.
All so-called adults (should) know that life is full of ups and downs and, as such, even they, who are married, will experience some strain, stress and awkwardness in their once-sacred relationship. When that occurs, it’s the time to cherish, respect and trust your married mate because most problems, disagreements, difficulties, etc. could and may be avoided if one remembers something Buddha once said.
He said, “When you focus on problems, you get more problems. When you focus on possibilities, you have more opportunities.” Think about that in your own spiritual spheres of inner comprehensions and ask yourself why are you upset with a certain situation, soul or problem in your present worlds of existences, hopefully, not forgetting that life’s experiences are perpetually filled with nothing but tests and trials galore for all, including unmarried folk.
Do you get it? I sincerely hope that you do because real love is eternal when it’s true. Someone once said to me, quoting someone else who he’d forgotten, that “Love doesn’t begin and end the way we think it does. Love is a battle, love is war; love is growing up.”
That’s right. Love is about growing up in many norms and attitudes when you marry someone and honorably believe in “until death do us part.” The great musician Ray Charles related, “Love is a special word, and I only use it when I mean it. You say the word too much (without sincerity) and it becomes cheap.”
My dad love playing music while he was painting whatever he was working on at any given moment. One of his favorite musicians was Duke Ellington, and the jazz pianist, composer and maestro said, “Love is indescribable and unconditional. Unconditional love not only means I am with you, but also I am for you, all the way, right or wrong.”
Maybe, that’s what my father and mother had in such great abundance that they understood and shared same with each other. This trusting unconditional love in great abundance, apparently, was the ingredient that kept them soulfully them together from their marriage vows in the ’30s until my dad’s untimely death in 1964.
Novelist and Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison penned, “Love is or love ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.” Intensely think about that. And to all of the married brothers and not-yet-married men, please remember that educator Booker T. Washington simply taught that “Great men cultivate love.”
Finally. I’ll leave you with the thoughts of the beloved educator, Mary McLeod Bethune, who uttered, “I leave you love. Love builds. It is positive and helpful. It’s more beneficial than hate. Injuries quickly forgotten quickly pass away. Personally and racially, our enemies must be forgiven.
“Our aim must be to create a world of fellowship and justice where no man’s skin color or religion is held against him. ‘Love thy neighbor’ is a precept which cold transform the world if it were universally practiced.” Enough said. For today and always, that’s, “As I See It.”