Three words

Unconditional, unexpected, undeserved. These three adjectives modify, expand, and clarify the noun “love”. God’s love is all of these, and the experience of this threefold love is transformative.

The undeserved is quite obvious. It is not “undeserved” in a moralistic or pietistic sense. It is actually undeserved in a realistic sense: what could the limited creature possibly do to deserve the love, or even the passing glance, of the Eternal Creator?

The unexpected is again how things work. There are many things I can think I do not deserve, or do deserve, but which I can calculate the odds of getting them. Even if the odds are astronomical, I can still somewhat grasp the possibility or impossibility of the event. But God’s love is unexpected, and even unexpectable! It will always come as a surprise – a deep transcendent twist which changes everything – when it appears it is as if all context for all thought has now shifted a step to the right.

Finally it is not only undeserved and unexpected, but it is also unconditional. This means that there is no condition I can meet to be loved. There is no context that could possibly justify or facilitate such love. Further, there is nothing I can possibly do which would create a condition which would prevent God from loving me.

This threefold love is the Way of Jesus. The encounter with this threefold love in the street we are walking down, the road we are driving on, the supermarket aisle we are shopping in, the concrete encounter with the very real transcendent threefold love has a cost. The cost is a deep transformation of the very fibers of my being from being the lover to being the beloved.

The clarify, usually, especially in some spiritual literature, a person is described as the lover who pursues and tries to woo a shy and demure Beloved, who is God. This is how we all approach spiritual life – we are the pursuers, the goal is the pursued. We are the hunters, and God the prey. Think through it for a while and you will see an exaltation of agency, of human free will.

What I am calling an encounter with the threefold love takes that idea and flips it over on its belly. Suddenly I realize and see quite clearly that God is the one who pursues, woos, hunts, chases me! I am God’s Beloved.

But it goes even deeper. In the Song of Songs there is a deep realization that “I belong to my lover and my lover belongs to me”, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.”

This mutual possession flattens the distance between God and person until it becomes meaningless to hold any separation between them. One whom God loves is not capable of being away from Gos in any meaningful way – not physically, not mentally, not spiritually.

Such a beloved then finds themselves joining the circle of beloveds across space and time, all those who have recognized that they are not the lovers, but rather the loved – the circle of the beloved by God.

If you realize this, your job then is to take first this admonition “don’t rouse, don’t arouse love until it desires.” But with that in mind all those who themselves beloved are to ““Rise up, my dearest, my fairest, and go.” Go where? Go and wake the ones loved by God who are sleeping but whose hearts are awake!

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About spaceloom

An urban monk, and an experienced spiritual director with a Masters in Psychology. Married with two children. Want to know me better? Read my thoughts.
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