Love, by definition, is not static. It is always other-directed. It is the energy that moves us away from the self and away from pettiness and smallness of character. Love creates generosity and largesse, in us and in our societies. Teresa tells us that Love is always stirring about, seeing what it can do; it cannot contain itself. I hold that love, where present, cannot possibly be content with remaining always the same.
Teresa asks us to prioritize love because love’s energy always creates new possibilities. The action of love teaches us what we most need to know, about ourselves, about one another, and about our world. To become jaded about love is to sink into a miserly existence and face a very dark future.
It is important to keep ourselves directly attuned to the source of love. In human life, many relationships fall short of life-giving love, and this can cause us pain and anguish. Sometimes, in order to keep ourselves from feeling this pain, we adopt strategies: we withdraw, we become aggressive, we begin to use other people for selfish interests. And in this way, we perpetuate many of the world’s false messages about love. It is precisely in our moments of pain, grief, loss that we need the healing vitality of genuine love.
When one avenue to love in our lives closes, our task is to recognize that it was and is only a small echo of a far greater love—a love that spiritual writer Henri Nouwen calls our “first love,” which precedes all human love. This is the love of God, which corrects all false loves, enhances all life-giving love, and teaches us what true love is. This love “changes everything” because it desires and supports our continual growth in goodness, in hope, in generosity, in dignity, and in justice. Invested in our continual improvement, how could such a love possibly remain always the same?