Exploring the meaning of life…

Posts tagged ‘love’

Tolstoy weaves a spider web of love…

   The means to gain happiness
is to throw out from oneself,
like a spider, in all directions,
an adhesive web of love,
and to catch in it
all that comes.
Leo Tolstoy

 

I love this quote from Tolstoy.  So much has been written about love by poets, songwriters and those who are head over heels in love, but this is the first reference to “throwing out an adhesive web of love” that I have ever read.  Like the Apostle Paul, Tolstoy had an amazing transformation that made it plain to him that he had missed the boat in his life.  He was a successful Russian writer of great aclaim, but his life was empty. He experienced a depression during which he questioned everything about his life and the life of all mankind.  His entire system of beliefs seemed to crumble right before him, and it almost killed him.  In order to survive and reorder his belief system, he held tight to one belief – that God existed.  For him, it was the only thing that gave meaning to life.  Many others have shared his struggle.  Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said it this way, “The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do: the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die.”  For Tolstoy the truth was that God existed and was manifested in love.

                                                                                                         

Leo Tolstoy - 1908

Tolstoy received much critisism after his conversion experience, and many doubted his sincerity.  However, if you have read “The Death of Ivan Ilych,” which was his first work after his conversion, I don’t think you could have much doubt that he truly experienced a spiritual awakening.  For me, it is in every page of the story in a way that I don’t believe could be written by anyone that had not come to a truthful understanding of what is valuable in our lives.  In the above quotation, he lays it out for us – it is love.  That is what brings real joy and happiness.  He discovered these truths toward the end of his life, but not too late for him to experience true love and not too late for his readers to understand the value in life by reading “The Death of Ivan Ilych.”  If you are searching for the meaning in your life, give it a try.  Read the book.  You have nothing to lose.

Here’s to love – have a happy journey!            

Above all – we must have love!

    Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.
    And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.  1 Corinthians 13:1

Paul writes that we can have the most eloquent speech imaginable, but if we don’t have love, it will sound like clanging cymbals.  We can have the faith to move mountains, but without love we may miss the significance of life.  We can give to others and sacrifice our very lives, but without love, it is futile.  Those are strong words!

I think people get hung up sometimes doing “the work of God.”  They spend their time “doing” for the church, taking part in many ministeries and believe they are accomplishing God’s work.  But, no matter how many church activities we are in, without love for others, we fall short of who God has created us to be.  Paul understood this and wanted to make it plain to everyone: If you don’t serve with love, you are just making a loud noise. 

 I remember a dream that I had a few years ago.  In that dream, I was standing behind a stage curtain and was expected to deliver an hour-long speech on love.  I was frantic.  I kept making excuses to the stage manager: I can’t talk that long on any subject!  I don’t know enough about love to be speaking about it!  I don’t have any notes to go by!  Then I felt a hand on my shoulder and I knew immediately that it was the hand of God.  He said to me, “You have it all inside of you already.  I already prepared you to talk about love.  You don’t need any notes…it’s INSIDE of you!  Just start talking and I will do the rest.”

As my dream ended, I was walking to the stage.  I still didn’t know what I was going to say, but I knew that God would help me find the answers deep inside of me.  Then I woke up.  I immediately understood the dream, that above everything else, God wanted me to search inside my soul for the love that passeth all understanding.  I try to walk that path every day.

Now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  And the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13:13

Respecting Parents

 A frail old man lived with his son, his daughter-in-law, and his four-year-old grandson.  His eyes were blurry, his hands trembled and his step faltered.  The family would eat together nightly at the dinner table.  But the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating rather difficult.  Peas rolled off his spoon, drooping to the floor.  When he grasped his glass of milk, it often spilled clumsily on the tablecloth.

With this happening almost every night, the son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess and decided they must do something about the grandfather.

So, the couple set a small table in the corner of the room.  There, the grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed their dinner at the dinner table.  Since the grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.  Sometimes when the family glanced in the grandfather’s direction, he had a tear in his eye as he ate alone.  Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.  The child watched it all in silence.  

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor.  He asked the child sweetly: “What are you making?”  Just as sweetly, the boy replied,”Oh, I’m making a little bowl for you and mama to eat your food from when I grow up.”  The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.

These words so struck the parents that they were speechless.  Then tears streamed down their cheeks.  Though no words were spoken, both knew what must be done.  That evening, the husband took the grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table.

For the remainder of his days, the grandfather ate every meal with the family.  And for some reason, neither husband or wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk was spilled or the table cloth was soiled. -Anonymous-

Here’s hoping that we all will treat our parents in a loving, respectful manner.  We will all be there someday.

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