"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit." (Jeremiah 17: 7 & 8, New King James Bible).
"So Jesus said, "Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man," (Matthew 15: 16-20, to comma; New King James Bible).
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 5: 43 & 44, New King James Bible).
San Antonio, Texas, is a fascinating and unusual city. Actually, it is more like two cities with two environments. On the normal-ground level, away from the river banks, the city has an atmosphere, here and there, of the 'old west' with its adobe structures and its crown from the past, the Alamo. But at the river level, a whole, other environment exists.
I was recently remembering San Antonio's meandering river and how pleasant it is to come upon—just like entering a far-away place of beauty and harmony. There is almost a mystical aspect to this natural phenomenon of the river's flow through the city. The Riverwalk, itself, is a fascinating, environmental presence, with the outdoor cafes, tour boats, hotels and natural beauty at every turn.
The San Antonio River is not its own source. Originally (before years of improvements, such as dams, walls, and other innovations to divert and improve the flow of the river) the waters had their source from two grouping of springs: the San Antonio Springs and the San Pedro Springs. (More in-depth information on this can be found on websites online, such as http://www.edwardsaquifer.net/sariver.html).
As I was recalling a visit there, the thought came to me that God's Love, like this beautiful, unusual river, is a presence that meanders through the consciousness of all Its children, flowing smoothly, but endlessly, on, just as this river endlessly flows through San Antonio. And like the river, God's wondrous, loving spirit flows through each of us, forever—quietly waiting to be expressed in all its glory, changing the outer world of form in wondrous ways. We are not the source of this flowing love; Spirit is its Source. Yet, this loving spirit is within the consciousness of each of us, quietly flowing from God, through us, whenever we don't dam it up.
Love is something that has to flow through God's spiritual children, or else no one will feel it. We only feel love when it flows through us, outward to the rest of the universe. We cannot 'get' love from anyone outside ourselves. The only love we actually feel, is the love that we 'let out' and feel it fill our emotional sense of well-being, as it flows through our consciousness.
For example, notice the love that parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters express about a new baby. Within a few hours after birth, love is pouring out of those around the infant; yet, the infant isn't actually loving anyone back. It doesn't know anyone yet. But the love that those close to the infant are expressing is making the loving ones feel great joy and good within themselves, even when no love is yet returned!
So, here is a phenomenon about love that I repeat for future reference: It is only the love that flows out through us that we can actually feel. The more we love those in our lives, the better we feel on our own deeper, emotional level. A sense of well-being accompanies every loving expression we allow to flow out of that river of spiritual love that is flowing through our deeper, spiritual, consciousness.
Likewise, when we refuse to allow the love of Spirit to flow through us, we feel the anger, depression, and unease that negative, emotional expressions create within us. The longer we keep such things as resentment, anger, hate against anyone or any human situation, the longer we suffer the unhappiness these things produce in consciousness. People we don't like feel nothing of our negative emotions about them. Only we, ourselves, feel what we are allowing to live within our house of consciousness.
For instance, crowds of people often feel love and joy for an individual, (such as a popular celebrity) but that individual really can't feel the love from the individuals in the crowd. They might say they do; they might proclaim that they do, but they don't. The celebrity experiences ego satisfaction and a sense of appreciation of his or her gift; but love is not what they feel, anymore than they can feel negative emotions that someone in the crowd might be feeling towards them. Only the emotions we are expressing from within us can actually be felt and experienced. Whatever love we express from within goes out from God's infinite love, through us as the channel, and then into the collective human experience.
In other words, there is a definite connection between happiness and allowing God's spiritual love to flow through us. When suffering from feelings of gloom, discontent, and lack of joy, we might want to check how much love we've been withholding from the universe. A positive self-image doesn't come from what people think of us, but what we think of ourselves. As the loving Spirit of God flows through our consciousness and into the world, we begin to love ourselves and all others. This is the love we feel, as it flows through us toward our spiritual brothers and sisters.
Sometimes, the choice to love an unlovable one can take an unexpected, protective turn. I had an elderly aunt, who was an independent, retired school teacher; and she did a lot of traveling by herself. She was not afraid of much, but she told me of a dangerous incident she encountered, once, at the railroad station in Chicago.
While she was wandering through the station, trying to find her way to her train, she found herself in a somewhat dark area, where three or four young men were gathered. They looked like members of a rough gang, but as I mentioned, she wasn't afraid of much.
As she came near them, she asked them for directions. Instead, they surged toward her, grabbed her handbag, and tried to push her against the wall. She realized who the leader was, and she was just about to club him in the head with her closed umbrella, when the thought came to her to love him instead. So, suddenly, she put her umbrella down and moved toward the leader, and, in a soft voice, said, "This isn't you…you know better than this…you ARE better than this. You must stop this at once."
She told me that the young leader seemed startled by her words and looked into her eyes, like searching for something there, and replied, "You're right. I am better than this." He then took her purse back from the young man who held it, and said, "Leave her alone and let her go." The rest of the group obeyed him. He came back to my aunt and said, "I'm sorry." Then they all left.
My school-teacher aunt passed away, years ago; yet I remember her telling of this incident as if it just happened. I realize, now, that she just opened the gates of her mind and let that deeper, divine love within her higher Self, her Christly Self, flow through her to this 'leader' of the gang that was threatening her. She said that the peace she felt from this incident was amazing. She was so happy she hadn't hit him with her umbrella. Instead, she felt she had unexpectantly, and by some miracle, changed his life.
So, how do we access this river of Love meandering through us? How do we learn to love, despite any seeming need to protect ourselves first? The answer can be found in who we believe ourselves to be. Are we physical beings, separated from our Source that is Spirit, God, OR are we really God's own images and likenesses, (off-spring) still connected to God, with a deeper, more spiritual consciousness—the universal Christ Consciousness—within the center of our being?
In the tenth chapter of Luke, verses 25-28, this conversation was written about Christ Jesus and a lawyer: "And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He (Jesus) said to him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?" So he (the lawyer) answered and said, " 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.' " And He (Jesus) said to him, "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live." (My parentheses for clarity).
In this response to the lawyer's question, Jesus presented love as the only Law of God. There were no 'thou shalt nots' in the Master's answer. Instead, expressing love toward others is the only thing God requires of us, whatever level of existence we're dwelling upon. Love of God, our spiritual brothers and sisters, and ourselves keeps us from lying, cheating, stealing, or killing anyone. We then have no enemies to defeat when, like my aunt, we decide to see their higher selves and love them instead of fight with them.
When we decide to let God's love flow through us, we become a humanly-active part of God's eternal, universal harmony. The river of divine Love carries us with it, and protects us within it. Letting the River of Love flow out of us may not seem smart on the human, materialistic level of thought; but it is wise in the universe of Spirit, where we have to spend eternity. Love, alone, produces the harmony which has no destructive elements to fight.
Having said all that, I still find occasions, in my daily life, when it is hard to reject the reactive feelings of criticism and annoyance that present themselves when difficult-acting people seem to be in my way of peace. My own way of dealing with this seeming inability to 'love my enemies' is to not condemn myself, but realize the wisdom of Christ Jesus' words, "I can of mine own self do nothing:" (John 5:30 to colon, King James Bible). I then call upon my higher consciousness and Self, the Christ Consciousness within me, to take over my behavior.
"I can of mine own self do nothing:' is a statement made about our false, material identity. It shows the powerlessness of a sense of self, separated from God. Yet, Jesus was pointing to the fact that his higher Self, his Christly body, soul and mind, (the Self that is always at one with God) could do all rightful things.
Under the false belief of material rather than spiritual being, we don't expect God's authority to protect us in our daily, human lives. So, to take care of ourselves, we often give into the temptation to retaliate in kind when others attack and annoy us.
Yet, when we realize our oneness with God is still with us, we can call upon our higher Self, which is never asleep in the dream of mortal, material existence, but always awake to the reality of spiritual existence. This Christ Consciousness, within our deeper, awakened spiritual sense of things, DOES have the God-given capacity to love, despite appearances and destructive actions made against us. Knowing that this Christ Consciousness is always within us (right where a material-minded consciousness seems to be, but is not) we can go directly to this divine link with God and proclaim, "My real, spiritual Self, in God's image and likeness, knows too much spiritual truth to deny love to anyone. That is the ME that CAN love, even when feelings of a lesser sense of myself tries to interfere."
Our real Selves do not dismiss the importance of fulfilling God's law of Love; nor do we dismiss the resulting harmony and feelings of joy and well-being fulfilling the Law of Love brings into our daily lives. God's River of Love flows silently on below the surface of our human consciousness; but we can always remember that it is there, when we need to visit it.