Dr. Ken Larsen
Peter, Paul and Mary did the “Wedding Song” back in the 1970s. It nearly became a wedding cliché in many of the weddings I attended. The one phrase stuck out for me in a powerful and wonderful way. “Woman takes her life from man and gives it back again.” This had a deeply mystical meaning for me that speaks to the flow of life and love among us. I believe that the phrase need not be gender specific. We all have the opportunity and the joy of giving life to one another, and receiving life in return.
Our mental health and happiness depend on our need for love and belonging. When we talk about “love” in this way, I believe we are talking about our connections with one another that allow for the flow of that life giving energy we call “love” to flow freely among us. We know what this feels like when it is working. From the near ecstasy of the first blush of young love to the comfortable connections we enjoy with those close to us through the years. This state of being connected in life giving ways is the cornerstone of mental health and happiness. Sometimes we don’t know just how much these connections mean to us until they are lost.
What would happen if each of us would recognize that we have the gift of life to give to others? A cheery smile to a stranger, a word of appreciation to someone who serves us in a restaurant or drug store, these are ways to give life to others. Flowers, a lingering hug, tender touches are ways that we give and receive life and love from those in the intimate circles of our life.
We’ve heard for millennia that we ought to love one another, but putting this into practice seems to be elusive. We are faced with the many ways that we are separate and different from one another. This sense of separation makes it easier to remain distant and disconnected. Carried further, our history shows that when we focus on our separation and differences, we can blame “them” for our problems. This leads to enmity, hatred, and sadly, to violence and warfare.
What if we were to begin to look at our connections? What if we were to make an effort to recognize one another as persons in the greater whole of humanity? What if we worked consciously to find ways to share life and leave behind our long history of separation, hatred and death? What if we recognized the truth in John Donne’s oft quoted words:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
John Donne 1572-1617.
What if each of us in some small way started to live our lives as though we believed in our connections as human beings? What if each of us would make a choice to give life in some small way each day to those we meet? I believe that the impact on our world would be more than some small thing. It could mean a step in progress toward a whole new and better world.
Try it, you may like it.