Saturday, July 24, 2010

Love and Do What Thou Wilt

"Love, and do what thou wilt." St.Augustine

While in France, I went to mass the first Sunday. This was more out of a desire for my children to reconnect with their French and Irish Catholic roots and tradition than from a need for spiritual sustenance that particular day. However, from the very first sermon, this priest had me hooked. Not just the sermon, but all of the reflections beginning with the first moments of the service to the little ones in between readings, were about love. Just love, the importance of love, the all-conquering power of love, the need for love in the world. No guilt, no moral lessons, just love.

That first sermon was a syntaxical nit-picking of a phrase that could have been translated by either; "do as Christ did" or "love as Christ did". My linguistic ears pricked up and listened as hard as they could between pacifying a toddler and making big, scary eyes at the five-year-old who wanted to run and play, or at the very least, pinch his sister so that SHE would make noise. I love translation debates of ancient texts, especially when they've been translated two or three times and are thus open to interpretation and discussion.

The last sermon was a reading and explanation of the text from St.Augustine quoted above and in full here:

"Love, and do what thou wilt: whether thou hold thy peace, through love hold thy peace; whether thou cry out, through love cry out; whether thou correct, through love correct; whether thou spare, through love do thou spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good. "

This is the one I remember and seek to apply in real life. Upon what else can one base one's decisions in life? I remember picking up a book one day, I think it is still on the shelf in my bedroom. The title frightened me, it is the well-known; "Loving Your Child is Not Enough." With many years of pondering not necessarily the contents, but just the title, I will propose that loving your children IS enough, if it is the basis for everything you do. Not from a sense of duty nor from frustration nor from a need to dominate should parenting decisions stem. When we take the time to truly see and consider the character and needs of a child and seek to fulfill those needs through right paths for that child, this is based on love. Don't get me wrong, needs also include limits and boundaries, I am not talking about catering to every whim and fancy of every child.

When we see a child as a being that we need to prepare "for the real world" and we impose what we believe to be "the right way" upon them, regardless of their individuality, we act not from love but from fear. Fear of the future, fear of personal inadequacy, fear of uncertainty, fear of failure.

Seeking to bring out what is inherent, good and true in each child is really what education is all about. Understanding their needs and interests, drawing out their latent talents and potential, these are our real life tasks as parents and educators. Beginning with love seems like an excellent starting point. So, do you wake up one day and "get your kid" and everything just flows from then on? Of course not, how boring! Life's circumstances are not static nor are children. It is a continual dance of seeing, reacting, adapting and never forgetting to see others through the eyes of love.


  1. Tell every nation that we could be one by loving everyone... cause we are one big family. What a soothing topic, love and do what thou wilt.

  2. Yes, love is the key.I feel most of us teach our children how to live in the the world through love, and by giving love, others can pick up our vibe,and see something special.Then, if they are not so loving, some of your love will rub off on them. A lovely post,cheers Marie

  3. Hi Jodie,

    I love your spirit!

    It really isn't as hard as all that, is it? (Well, there are days...)



  4. Hi Marie,

    And many times, someone else's loving manner touches us and reminds us of all the love we are not letting ourselves feel.

    Thank you for the reminder to let the love show.




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