Thursday, April 10, 2014

Love: Such a Marvelous Business

In her book, The Road of Lost Innocence, Somaly Mam writes, “I strongly believe that love is the answer and that it can mend even the deepest unseen wounds. Love can heal, love can console, love can strengthen, and yes, love can make change.” 

It is a wonder that she would know this. She was carried off as a young girl into sexual slavery. She was sold to and by various men. She finally ended up in a Cambodian brothel. Enduring years of abuse and torment she finally escaped. A Frenchman took her to France where she was introduced to a world of luxury. But she could not enjoy it. She was haunted by so many abused children in her country. She eventually returned to Cambodia to begin rescuing young girls caught in the giant and horrific sex industry there. In time, she established three shelters in Cambodia and later started programs in Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos where teams of medics, educators, investigators and outreach workers now assist girls in need. With the help and support of some Americans she started in 2007 the Somaly Mam Foundation which raises funds to carry on these important shelters and programs. Her movement has helped rescue thousands of girls from a life of cruel exploitation and despair.

Where did all of that love come from? Not from her family; she has no memory of them. Not from the generous Frenchman. Not from a church or organization. It came from within her. She longed to care for girls caught in the terror and shame of the world she lived in. It was in extending herself, with courage and determination to help desperate young girls, that she found within an all-encompassing love. It was in loving others that she herself experienced and understood the real meaning of love.

“Love can heal, love can console, love can strengthen, and yes, love can make change.”

It is so easy for us to want and even expect others to love us. We often waste so much time trying to get that to happen. Some spend a lifetime waiting for a parent, or spouse, or sibling, or a love interest, or a friend to love them. Waiting and waiting. Hoping. Wondering. Trying and trying to make it happen. For so many it just never does. Not that way.

Somaly Mam found love by loving others. Her heart hurt for the girls she knew were stuck in misery, gloom, and wretchedness; lost in a world of crushing humiliation. Today she beams with purpose. She is filled with meaning.  Her life is a story of how love works.

A friend of mine, a young divorced mother of a child with special needs, has consistently posted on Facebook loving photos of her handsome young son as he has grown and developed and thrived. She, too, has evolved as a mother and as a person. In their struggle together she has found a sweeping, enveloping, beautiful love for her child. She expresses that love openly in words filled with tenderness and something that borders on sacred. Though she takes care of herself, her needs pale in comparison to those of her son. And she has found in loving him a sense of her own worth.

We all do when we decide to expand our heart and share our love with someone it won’t be wasted on.

Perhaps my favorite poet, Mary Oliver, has written:

“On the beach, at dawn:
Four small stones clearly
Hugging each other.

How many kinds of love
Might there be in the world,
And how many formations might they make

And who am I ever
To imagine I could know
Such a marvelous business?”

It is a marvelous business. Such a glorious mystery. Love cannot ever be fully defined or even completely understood. Its borders exceed our vision and our imagination. Love is within all of us. And we find its endless resources, its truest meaning, and its unfathomable power when we generously and sincerely give it away.

© 2014 Timothy Moody

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