The old sofa was covered with kids, borrowed tables bulged with food and the whole clan was gathered. It was another one in our tradition of family parties where we all come together to celebrate birthdays, graduations, accomplishments or simply the love we share. I am now the oldest person in the room!
It just so happened that it was Father’s Day weekend, so we had that to share as well. It was also a moment of awareness for me as I thought about my father and our time together.
Bob wasn’t warm and fuzzy; he was impatient and gruff. I’d avoided spending much time with him until we began working together. It wasn’t an easy 15 years, but we got to know each other as men, not just as father and son. As one of my friends said, “If you had that relationship with your father, you’re miles ahead of most men!”
In his final days as he was drifting away, he told me, “You know it’s not so bad being surrounded by people who love you.” This was it! This is what he’d resisted but waited for all his 70+ years. Now in the last 90 days he was shown that there are two parts to the equation of love. It was no longer an idle concept to him, but part of his daily life.
There is giving love, which he had shown in his generosity of spirit. And there is receiving love, the missing part of the equation until he could no longer do it all for himself. Allowing in the love and letting others care for him was his unique challenge in those last days.
As I was journaling about the party on Father’s Day, I realized that during that time I was allowing myself to receive love as I never have before. The liberating factor is the lack of expectation for any of us. No gifts, no demands, no blame, no judgment, just great food and lots of laughter.
Love isn’t a noun, it’s a verb. It consists of giving and receiving in some balanced measure. Without the giving, we are needy, there’s a hole in our soul. Without the receiving, we are cold and distant, too afraid to let others close.
Martin Buber said that the Divine exists in the flow of connection between I and Thou. Giving love and receiving love are the two essential components of a balanced life. When we have those moments of I and Thou we are tuning into that flow and co-creating with the Divine. We are experiencing the equation of love.