A Love That Moves Us



What is it?
Who can have it?
Who can’t?

The other day, I had a long, lovely conversation with Rachael Maddox. At the end of a long trek by bike across the country, Rachael and her husband had landed in Oakland for a few days, and lucky me got to spend some time with her.

Rachael is beautiful, and her beauty shines both inside and out. She is wise. She is open-hearted. I was touched by her presence.

My time with Rachael opened my mind in an unexpected way, but first,

a small detour:

I was born in the latter part of the 50’s in the United States, a time when most women were housewives, ala Donna Reed (a TV show of the time). While my mother became a single mother in the early 60’s, the majority of women I saw, both in real life and on TV, were housewives.

I grew up with the sense that there would be someone to watch over me, to take care of me, a ‘big-daddy’ kind of sense of the world. Perhaps that’s the big Patriarch out there. After all, the religious traditions I saw espoused a ‘Father in the sky’. My government espoused a ‘Father in Washington’. Most TV shows showed the father as the head of the household making both the money and the decisions.

Looking back it seems odd to me that I would so strongly believe that a male someone, or something, would take care of things, because it was my mother that took care of me, both physically and financially.

Even though I now see and experience (and have for years) that this is not the case, the conditioning is strong. The conditioned mind’s worldview still sees the world this way, or perhaps a better description would be that it hopes the world is this way.

Back to Rachael,

Rachael is more than half my age. Her world view is different, of course, especially because of her age, but also because of her life experience. I don’t want to write of her world view, because that is hers to share. Be sure to read her blog and get to know her. You’ll be glad you did.

What I want to write about is how Rachael and my conversation with her helped me to see things in a new way.

Speaking with Rachael helped to unlock some of this unconscious conditioning about power, and how I unconsciously still hold out hope that someone, most likely a man, will ride in on his powerful horse to save the day, to save me, to save the world.

Many people never have seen this as a possibility.

Speaking with Rachael helped me to see more deeply and clearly that I continue to try to figure out a way to make what I now know is true about my experience (as a woman and the power I know is within me) fit into this cultural structure. It can’t.

This structure is a dream in that it causes us to believe that it is the true nature of reality. The structure exists in our minds, and in the institutions we’ve created with our conditioned minds, minds that believe in scarcity and a hierarchy based on perceived values and worth of different groups of people, and layers of life.

Scarcity and Hierarchy

In a culture where we believe in scarcity and hierarchy, privilege and not-so-privileged, it seems as though power is something held over others, or something where some have it and others don’t. That is how plays out in action in a cultural structure that sees power this way.

In this cultural structure, power is to be wielded over others, offered up by those who have when it is in their interest to do so, and to be adhered to by those who don’t have it.

In this cultural structure, there is a limited amount of power, so if one group has it another doesn’t. If one group decides to step into their power, it seemingly takes away power from others.

Notice that in a structure like this, when we believe what the structure shows us, power from within makes no sense. Even if we feel our own power within, our minds tell us things that support the structure rather than our own experience, because our own internal thought structures have been replicated from the cultural structure in which our minds were conditioned.

In our conditioned minds, power from within, power that is available for all, power that works together, makes no sense and can even seem dangerous to express in this cultural paradigm.

To the conditioned mind, there are few options:

One can acquiesce, consent to it by remaining silent, to the power out there, making one seemingly powerless.

One can join the power out there in beliefs, in actions, in thought, making one seemingly part of.

One can fight it, in actions, in thought, making one feel powerful against.

But to the awakened mind and heart,

one can feel the truth of one’s own internal power and choose from what is true. One can meet the ‘power over’ out there with ‘power from within’.

In very simple terms I use to try to express something that can’t be expressed, ‘power over’ comes from the fear of the conditioned mind; ‘power from within’ comes from realizing the truth of one’s own experience and feeling and expressing the powerful nature of the life that flows from within.

In recent days, I’ve noticed the Occupy Oakland movement showing signs of many of these ways of being with power. While some small bands of people chose to fight the structural power with power against by using violence, the majority of people have been coming from a place of awakened presence, choosing peaceful protest that comes from knowing they choose to no longer acquiesce to a power structure that does not serve its people.

The sands of our culture are shifting.

I know that the only way I can know what is real is what my own heart tells me. And, I know there is no knight riding in to save us.

All that can save us is love, the power of love, the power of the awakened heart. Many years ago, Jimi Hendrix spoke powerful truth when he said, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

Letting go of hope and opening the heart to the power of love.

The place I find myself in is truly looking within to feel the power of love within. It’s not a projected or romantic love, the kind of I’ve known in my life. This love is powerful and it can almost feel too big to experience. And,

as wise Rachael writes, “We are capable of being love that big.”

And, it means one more step, being love that big in action.

Action can be listening. As a grandmother, a woman who has lived many years, I know I hold wisdom. And, one of the wisest things I can do is listen to the wisdom of a younger generation, a generation that sees things differently, a generation that can help us to wake up. And listen to other races and religions. Listen to both women and men.

Action is not silent. For me, remaining silent has been a place of powerlessness. And yet, the action I want to embody is action that comes out of silence. This action is a natural expression of the power of love. Love this big is an active force. Love this big moves us.

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8 Replies to “A Love That Moves Us”

  1. Wow. This is quite a piece. I think being love that big can only be done in the midst of other love that big, because at first it does feel dangerous, too much to experience, to our conditioned minds. It takes time and patience to be able to set aside the conditioned mind, or stretch it enough, to begin to allow an experience of love that big without feeling like it might shatter us into a million little pieces. And in small groups around little fires, in community where the power of love trumps the love of power, we can experience the safety that allows us to expand – a little at first, and then more and more, so that we can embody a love that big. Yes Julie, you should write more. Action may be in listening first, but it’s also in the telling.

  2. Dear Renae,

    Thank you. Yes, and if it is the conditioned mind trying to set itself aside, then that could take eons! 😉 I wonder about a love this big and feeling worthy to feel it…to really let it in. Maybe the safety is in the love itself. Maybe it is the ‘safest’ thing there is, although not to the conditioned mind.
    Action is in the telling. Yes. Sometimes my mind tells me what I have to write isn’t ‘enough’. When I don’t write for a while, then these bigger pieces seem to flow forth.
    And, yes, we can all take action in the telling… I have a sense just the telling of stories creates that campfire and community you write of…

  3. Telling IS action, and oh my goodness, what powerful action you’ve committed here in this post. As I read this, I am struck with how, well, passive hope seems. Hope: waiting. Waiting for some male to ride in on his white horse and rescue us. (A detour of my own: to really rescue us would mean, for me anyway, erasing all this conditioning that keeps us, well, hoping instead of acting. Hoping instead of loving.) Hope: waiting for somebody else to take care of us, hold us, make us better (whatever “better” means).

    Loving, though. Loving is an act we commit all by ourselves. We don’t have to wait on anybody else to start something, to do something, to rescue us. We can love any time we choose to. There’s always power in knowing we can choose, and there’s power in loving, period.

    Okay, I’m getting nowhere here – except bogged down. I don’t do big philosophical writing well. Maybe conditioning is making an appearance with that statement – I can’t clearly, a.k.a. logically say something, therefore I’m not good at it.

    Can you imagine, though, a world in which the conditioning was that of love and acceptance and support and allowing? A world in which the conditioned heart IS the awakened heart? A world in which the conditioning is to be a love that big?

  4. Hello lovely, wholly Jeanne,
    hope is passive. and, sometimes waiting is necessary, yes? a waiting receptivity. an engaged receptivity is action. oooh. I can feel another post coming.
    thank you for adding your beautiful words to the conversation.
    love you,

  5. My precious Julie,

    Thank you for starting this yet another important conversation and for tolerating my clumsiness at discussing the big – something I usually steer completely clear of, preferring to stick to my little stories. Thank you for creating such a safe place to venture out of the comfort zone, to be clumsy, to maybe even steer off topic but trust our selves anyway . . .

    For me, there’s a difference in waiting (hope) and keeping vigil (love). I wrote about it on WritingCloth.com when in conversation with a cloth. Waiting is fidgety, anxious. Keeping vigil is a kind of trust, a sacred act. When we keep vigil, we are trusting – we are knowing – that our souls know. Does that make sense? When we stay with the uncomfortable feeling, whatever dress it wears – depression, sadness, anger, whatever – when we treat it like a creative waiting, it becomes a salve for our spirit.

    Maybe engagement is the ingredient that distinguishes waiting and keeping vigil, or in this case, hope and love. When we hope, we wait with expectation, looking at every man who walks by wondering “Is he the one? Is he the one who will save me/hold me/love me/insert your own words here?” When keeping vigil, we engage with the uncomfortable feelings, even if that engagement is nothing more than staying present, sitting with our feelings spilling our tears. We may call a trusted friend or soulmate to talk – and that’s certainly a type of engagement. The main thing is: we are not shoving it aside, we are not waiting for somebody to come “save” us.

    Keeping vigil forms a womb from which we will eventually emerge, fortified, strengthened in our own power. Keeping vigil is a way to love ourselves right smack into our own power.

    Love you to a crisp, I surely do,

  6. Dear Julie,

    Thank you so much for this post. The ideas you presented here are rather complicated but you’ve skillfully and beautifully rendered them easily understandable. “Power over” and “power from within,” waiting and hoping for others to save us and know that we are our own saviors….ideas that have been bouncing around in my head for a long while but have yet to take shape.

    Cheers to lovingly, actively, engaging and moving towards a time when the power of love overcomes the love for power.

    With love and gratitude,


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