THE SUBSTANCE OF LOVE
WHO AM I?
When I was growing up, maybe 3 years old, my family lived next door to an older “widow woman” with a bushy head of salt and pepper hair, who wore thick glasses, chain-smoked and laughed a deep, rumbly laugh. I called her Auntie Helen. She wasn’t really my aunt, but in those days all the women on the block of tiny houses in our wannabe prosperous neighborhood in San Antonio were my aunts and all had full permission to act like my mother when my mother wasn’t around. Many times I would go to Auntie Helen’s house and the first thing she would ask is, “Have you eaten? Are you hungry?” and I would nearly always say, “No, I haven’t eaten and yes, I am hungry.” So Auntie Helen would cackle and prepare my favorite: Uncle Ben’s “Instance” Rice with a big pat of butter. I remember Auntie Helen used a white enamel pan to boil the water and my mother didn’t. I wondered if that was a magic pan that made the Instance rice taste better. It wasn’t the rice that was special, it was what Auntie Helen put IN the rice: love. Auntie Helen transformed the Instance rice into the Substance of Love.
WHY AM I HERE?
Bees are a community of love. A hive is like a being. Individuals all selflessly devoted to gathering pollen in an extremely intimate fashion: parting the petals of the flower blossoms, crawling inside and licking, sucking and gathering the pollen. The bee then travels to another plant and, in that intimate visit, it pollinates that plant. Each hive is devoted to love and helping the flowers make love.
Imagine the hundreds of bees that live in each hive going out each day to make love to dozens if not hundreds of plants in a huge diameter around their hive. That’s an amazing, invisible community task without which the flowers, fruits and plants in a large area cannot grow. They cannot pollinate themselves. I remember a Vacation Bible School song which goes, “Bees, Bees of Paradise, do the work of Jesus Christ. Do the work that no man can.”
When the community bees return to the hive each day, they have a second intimate task: they transform the pollen into honey and propolis with which to feed the Queen and bee babies and make the hive secure. Honey, then, is made by a community devoted to love in order to serve the community. Rudolf Steiner called honey the “substance of love” and asks us to recall the inner experience of the taste of honey on our tongue. He says this is an experience of love. We all need to experience love.
WHAT DO I WANT?
Our world is going through a time where there are fewer resources and consequently people may individually feel needy for themselves but are actually rich in resources for one another, their community. Volunteering is better than bowling alone. I once spent a number of years teaching self-development courses as a volunteer in maximum security prisons. The men and I met as equals; we talked about life and I presented a few very simple but very challenging exercises from Rudolf Steiner. I’m not sure whose “self” was developed more, theirs or mine. So, if you can, volunteer at your church, hospital, Boys & Girls Club, weeding at a community farm, bussing tables at a food kitchen. Everybody can do something. Even calling an elderly neighbor and reminding them to take their medicine is an act of service, an act of love. Hunger of many types, physical and emotional, is on the rise in our communities. Become an Auntie Helen for someone else, transform your pan of Instance Rice into the Substance of Love.
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