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What is love?

What is love?

I recently saw this question written on the arm of a nearby park bench. Such a precise question. Such an infinite answer.

Like the wind, love may not be a physical thing you can touch and feel, but you can usually see its effects as it's happening and, also, after it has passed on.

As I walked through my neighborhood this morning to get the Sunday papers, it was pretty quiet. I was grateful for the perfect fall weather, cool, sunny, promising to become warmer as the day would go on. There was a very gentle breeze and I thought of the things that have left their loving effects on me and then moved on, like the wind. I was glad to be just able to get up on a beautiful morning and simply take a walk. I know too many people who suffer from various health issues that prevent even simple exercise. So there was that gratitude for this current moment and being able to walk through it with appreciation. The breeze of love.

I thought of my mother who died a year ago last spring. Two of my sisters and I had been listening the day before to a recording we made a few years ago of Mom identifying family members and other people in old photos. I thought of her voice, her hands, her strong personality and I remembered the three years of constantly rotating shifts of care-giving as she grew weaker and older. It was demanding in so many ways for all of us but we figured out how to make it work. During that time and even in her death, we were able to see the love in the situation. Like the wind that has blown through, she left me with the effects of being loved, both in the here and now and ethereally, permanently, happily. The effects of love.

I saw and heard sparrows twittering, blue jays squawking, cardinal chipping, mourning doves cooing, and bumblebees buzzing and thought of the natural world and its wonders. I thought of my steps on the sidewalk and how far I'd walked and how insignificant that little stroll was relative to the whole cosmos. I pictured how small I am on the planet, then enlarged my mental picture to our solar system, then to the swirling image of the Milky Way and then a whole universe. And I thought, it's all nature. And I'm part of nature. And I felt an abiding love for being part of the scene I observed. The ever-so-slight breeze I created as I walked past the shrub was the effect I left behind me. And, I thought again, love is the effect you leave behind.

Love is everywhere. It's in everything -- the extraordinary and the mundane. Love is life. You are life. You have an effect on everything.

Leave love behind you wherever you go. That's the gentle breeze that people will remember.


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