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Next page End Essay 12: An Ecology of Devotion by Dennis Rivers

that lets us run is compressed starlight, the light of the sun conveyed to us
from leaf to corn and wheat through countless hands.
I have never felt more alive in my life than when I have been in love.
For most of my life I took these feelings as revelations about the person
with whom I was in love. Only in recent years have I begun to realize that
these feeling were also saying something to me about my capacity to love,
inviting me to get more acquainted with my own heart, with this intense
aliveness. How is it that compressed starlight found this way of
expressing itself? At times in my life I have complained bitterly to the
Universe that love was not more evident in life. At some point the gestalt
shifted and I suddenly realized how extraordinary it was that a universe
composed mostly of rock and gas could have given birth to any experience
of love, anywhere. And even more extraordinary was the fact that I was a
carrier of this capacity, however clumsily I might carry it.
Our seemingly mundane existence, looked at from this angle, is a
miracle of mind-boggling proportions. However ordinary or unworthy we
may feel, we are nonetheless recipients of this galactic grace. Coming to
understand how much we have received, beyond any measure of earning
(for who could earn sunlight, or a billion years of evolution), sets the
stage for us to give something back to life out of the fullness of gratitude,
delight and awe. We are the Milky Way with arms and legs, eyes and ears,
and hearts yearning to love. What will we create with the creative energy
that the Universe has poured into us?
2. Reverence for the life that lives between us
There is a paradox at the heart of human unfolding: We can only love
others to the degree that we are capable of loving ourselves. But, on the
other hand, we are not born loving ourselves; we develop self-love by
internalizing the love of all those who have loved us. As infants, we do not
make our own food; neither do we make our own love.
Later in life, having been given the template, we may become
bestowers of kindness; having been fed, we will feel the rightness of
feeding others; having been nurtured by someone along the way, we will
find a way to nurture others.