Painting and Words By Laura Garrard
The well-lit chapel appears cheerful, decorated with bouquets in reds and pinks. I take my father’s arm and two steps forward toward marriage. Twenty-nine faces turn to watch, their purposeful presences piercing through me, their kind eyes and hearts shouting loudly without words. At once I feel their love, joy, admiration, concern for my future happiness, and desire to honor this moment of my life. Their love overwhelms me. I feel as if a brick hits my chest, and momentarily I lose my breath. Simultaneously, tears threaten to break free, but I push them back and down, forcing a dry dam in my throat. I take deep breaths and try to suppress the immeasurable sensation of receiving well beyond what I expected. I need to smile as best I can for photos, for this is a happy moment.
So this is love. It’s so massive that it’s difficult to fully experience at times. Perhaps this is why some run from relationships, successes, their own gifts and love within. When love faces us unexpectedly, we may cry or freeze. Admittedly or not, it touches us deeply. Then we go back to life with its many chores and obligations, until another sweet moment moves us from behind our worldly walls and fully welcomes us into the presence of God, the Holy.
Love is the best of what our hearts feel and offer in rare moments of selflessness and openness. And so, it resurrects our deepest selves. It knocks us silly. In counted moments, love proclaims our schedules and imperfect plans unimportant in a larger existence. Love teaches us that we, ourselves with God, are love.
Our souls are immense, the innocent as well as the experienced and well-worn. The magnitude of a soul stretches from our physical being to the sun. God cherishes each earthly soul more than the Teton Mountain Range before us. Love is endless, pure, and awe-inspiring to contemplate. We may see it briefly and then block out its scale.
In his book The Wisdom of Love; Toward a Shared Inner Life, Jacob Needleman writes that our ability to choose continuing love with our mate—as we realize and accept each other’s imperfections and our marriage matures—begins in the existence and search of divine, universal love within us. He posits that we may not be able to unconditionally love our beloved; we have personal, human needs within marriage. However, we may place trust in our mate’s search for their best self. We may love our mate for this seeking and choose to support them in their path toward the miraculous. Also, in moments of forgiveness or brushes at unconditional love, we may glimpse what we cannot fully realize on Earth but what we know to the depth of our beings does exist: eternal, divine love. As one recognizes this possibility within their mate, one also may admit that this exists within oneself.
In fact, deep within we know divine love is what we truly are. I witnessed divine love in my friends and family on my wedding day. I knew my husband-to-be loved me. I didn’t fully grasp the love of those present until I stepped into the chapel and felt it consume me. It was overpowering and unexpected, engraving a moment in my emotional memory.
I ask you this: Are you aware of the love that comes into your life? Do you know that the love shared in just one moment of a week, a month or even a lifetime can completely overpower? If you haven’t yet appreciated love’s immense nature, I challenge you to truly look and feel outward. Let your heart observe. This perspective may temporarily overwhelm you. When you experience a moment of clarity such as this, I dare say you will have a difficult time denying the existence of otherworldliness, of Spirit. You also may find it difficult to receive love in its entirety. When you are aware of divine love’s expansive presence, however, you may live a richer, more joyful life.
Laura Garrard, MS, BCTMB, CLT, CMT, is a bodyworker, writer and artist and the owner of Attuned Healing Massage & Bodywork in Jackson. She also teaches Reiki and energy-related courses. Garrard painted the above image, an acrylic abstract inspired by divine love and called “The Love of Family and Friends.” You may view her art and bodywork services on her website www.attunedhealing.com as well as follow her businesses on Facebook: www.facebook.com/lauragarrardartist and www.facebook.com/Attuned-Healing-MassageBodywork.
©2014 Laura E. Garrard, “Love Is Immense” essay; “The Love of Family and Friends,” 11×14” acrylic on canvas. All Rights Reserved.