In 2011 I co-edited ‘Kindred Pilgrim Souls’, a collection of short reflections written by members of my congregation, and the following is my own contribution to that book, on a belief which has shaped my life (and which continues to do so).
I believe in letting myself be led by love.
Connection with other souls is the most precious thing in life – lovers, friends, companions, teachers, mentors – those people I have been intimately entangled with, those whose lives I have only briefly touched, and still others (artists, writers, broadcasters) who I have only ‘met’ through their work.
As far back as I can remember, I have periodically become fascinated with certain beautiful people I have known, regardless of their gender, age, appearance, or other surface things. I feel a sense of recognition and resonance, an instinctive soul-connection, before I know it I am in love… and I feel more alive. Each one of these significant encounters, however short-lived, has changed me in some way. I feel that these soul-meetings always contain some kind of special message or invitation from the cosmos which allows me to learn something and to keep on developing into the person I am somehow meant to be. Some experiences seem more significant than others but awareness of even the briefest tingle can shake me out of inertia and alert me to an opportunity for growth. I trust the leadings of love to deliver me to where I need to be… to cut and to shape and to carve me into wholeness.
Theologically, I believe that each of us is a spark of the divine, and I try to live my life as if that is the case. However, when I meet someone with whom I feel a strong sense of connection, it seems immediately obvious and completely real to me. When I fall in love I feel that the God-in-me truly meets the God-in-thou.
Love has given me the courage, the extra push, to do things I never would’ve had the nerve to do otherwise: study for a PhD; visit a Unitarian church for the first time; travel to Iceland alone; co-lead a workshop at Hucklow summer school; give up a well-paid job and step out into the unknown. Some of these steps seemed like utter madness at the time, or at least somewhat ill-advised, but now I am glad I took them all. In each instance, somebody I loved saw some quality in me that I didn’t see in myself, challenged me to make a leap… and just because I loved and trusted them I said ‘YES’. I wonder where love will lead me next.
I absolutely knew, from a young age, that it was completely OK to love whoever you loved regardless of gender. I’m so glad that this conviction came naturally as it has informed so much of my life’s path since. I was fierce in my defence of gay, lesbian and bisexual equality (not entirely uncontroversial amongst my peers at a Catholic secondary school) and used the issue as the definitive test of any group, political party, or religion that I subsequently encountered. It was undoubtedly a key factor which repelled me from religion altogether in my teens and college years and the main reason why, when cautiously investigating churches once again in my mid-twenties, I decided to give the Unitarians a go first.
I believe it is so important to express our love, to be demonstrative, and to show our affection. It is easy to feel lonely or isolated and it means so much to me when loved ones reach out to connect – with a loving touch, words of appreciation, acts of caring and service, or simply walking alongside as a companion for a while – so although it means making myself vulnerable and open to hurt and rejection I do my best to reach out in this way when someone has brought me delight. I aim to be wholehearted and sincere… and don’t care if it makes me seem soppy or even downright insane!
‘What we love draws us forward and shapes our destiny. Our love teaches us what to
look for, where to aim, where to walk. With our every action, word, relationship,
and commitment, we slowly and inevitably become what we love.’ – Wayne Muller