We found so much in this book to recommend. A book about love, this is in fact a book for the purpose of loving more specifically, thoroughly, and completely right where you are.
The title is a formula that publisher Orbis Books has followed with similar volumes in recent years that we also enjoyed. We’ve reviewed four earlier ones in the series: The Way of Gratitude, a 2017 S&P award-winner; The Way of Kindness, a 2018 S&P award-winner; The Way of Forgiveness, a 2019 S&P award-winner; and The Way of Suffering, a S&P 2020 award-winner.
Like those others, this is an anthology of inspiring stories, essays, and poems by notable spiritual writers representing a variety of religious traditions (but most of all, Christianity) and writing styles. Speaking eloquently and practically on love are Anne Lamott, Joyce Rupp, Richard Rohr, and Brene Brown among living writers, and Meister Eckhart, Kahlil Gibran, and Mother Teresa among love experts who are no longer with us.
Some short essays will surprise you. For example, a portion of comedian Stephen Colbert’s commencement address at Northwestern University in 2011 is found here, including: “In my experience, you will truly serve only what you love…. Try to love others and serve others, and hopefully find those who love and serve you in return.”
Later, you will find a beautiful essay drawn from one of Cynthia Bourgeault’s books, including this teaching: “One of the most familiar of Jesus’ teachings is 'Love your neighbor as yourself' (Mark 12:31; Matthew 22:39). But we almost always hear that wrong: 'Love your neighbor as much as yourself.' (And, of course, the next logical question then becomes, 'But I have to love me first, don’t I, before I can love my neighbor?') If you listen closely to Jesus however, there is no 'as much as' in his admonition. It’s just 'Love your neighbor as yourself' — as a continuation of your very own being.”
It all links together. “I love myself. I am in you and I am you,” we encounter toward the end of the book in a poem of Rumi.
You will meet many other spiritual writers, too, such as Eckhart Tolle, Ram Dass, and Marianne Williamson. And the best moments are those that are imminently practical, such as this from Brene Brown:
“My mom taught us never to look away from peoples’ pain. The lesson was simple: 'Don’t look away. Don’t look down. Don’t pretend not to see hurt. Look people in the eye, even when their pain is overwhelming. And when you are in pain, find the people that can look you in the eye.' ”
Anne Lamott is also here saying: “Love is being with a person wherever they are, however they are acting. Ugh.”
Because as A Course in Miracles reminds us, also in these pages, “When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself.” We need these reminders of the wisdom of love now more than ever.