Recently, I went to the memorial service of one of the most wonderful and generous local leaders in my community. Rob Figley was a professional Santa, a political leader, and he officiated over a thousand weddings. The first gay wedding in our county was performed by him last December. It was covered in local and national media. At the end of all things, what his loved ones stressed at his service was his commitment to unconditional love.
As the representative of both Christmas and marriage in my community, Rob’s belief in unconditional love was for real.
On every level, our communities, our families, and our nation need unconditional love like a marathon runner needs a drink of water at the mile marks. There is a powerfully dark movement in our culture against this ancient understanding of the interdependence and need for connectivity in all things. Like most, I have suffered with others who believe unconditional love is just like Santa: a fairy tale for little kids. As Rob showed us, both Santa and unconditional love exist.
I know many people’s eyes roll when they hear me talk about things like unconditional love, and the need for a deeply abiding commitment to it. But having gone through all the things I have gone through in my life so far, I can say for certain love is truth, and those who are cynical of it are mistaken.
We don’t have to enable each other’s bad behavior or turn a blind eye to each other’s utter personal failures in order to love unconditionally. This kind of spiritual love is bravely honest and strong as to the center of the earth is deep. Unconditional love leads to separations sometimes, but only by leaving the possibility of reunion. This kind of love has healthy boundaries that may be impenetrable sometimes and porous at others.
Real love that moves beyond this life to live on with those who have passed is a transformer of worlds and a shifter of paradigms. As humble humans, those of us who aspire to it just as often fail as succeed on some days. Everyone struggles with ego and pain and fear- sometimes we don’t get the better of these devils. But when we keep our eyes on the prize of unconditional love, and stay connected with others with the same goal, we will find ourselves in this state more often than not.
I believe in unconditional love because I have lived in homes where “love” was conditional to moods, circumstances, and addictions. I grew up in places that were so absent of love they were abyss. Bringing the light of love into my life is a commitment I have chosen, and every day when I get up in the morning it is renewed.
On every level and in every place in our communities, we need to plant and nurture the seeds of unconditional love; just like every great leader in human history has implored us to do. At this time of deep divisions, it is more important than ever to listen to the wise men and women who came before us. It is time for us to take a hint from people like Rob, and put our minds and hearts in the right place. Who knows what kinds of miracles can happen when we do.