February 14 – Love at First Sight – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“Where two deliberate, love is slight.  Whoever loved, not having loved at first sight.” Christopher Marlowe

The true power of love at first sight is often missed because we insist on limiting its meaning to the sweep of falling into another person upon first meeting. To appreciate the deeper sense of this, we must uncover and reclaim the importance of first sight itself, which has more to do with seeing things essentially, rather than physically, for the first time.

We all walk around within the numbness of our habits and routines so often that we take the marvels of ordinary life for granted. It is first sight that opens the freshness of each moment, unencumbered by any of our habits and routines.  First sight is the moment of God-sight, heart-sight, soul-sight. It is the seeing of revelation, the feeling of oneness that briefly overcomes us when nothing remains in the way.

At its deepest and most real level, the notion of love at first sight is spoken of in every spiritual tradition as the reward for being fully awake. Such seeing anew restores our sense of being alive. Paradoxically, first sight is recurring. In the same way that we wake every day, we regularly return to first sight in the rhythm of our wakefulness of spirit. Whenever we can see with that original vision, with nothing between us and the life around us, we can’t help but love what we see. To see so fundamentally opens us to love. To love so fundamentally is to see the world we’re a part of as the vibrant, ongoing creation that it is. So, it really manifests this way: at first sight, we find love; at our first true seeing, the love that is already there, touches us.

In this regard, first seeing is an ever-present threshold to the majesty of what is. Certainly and beautifully, this happens with other people when we, upon first truly seeing another, fall sweetly into the miracle of their presence.  But this is also possible, on a daily basis, upon first truly seeing ourselves, our world, our sense of God – again and again.

I can work across from the same person for years, and one-day, because my own suffering, has opened me more fully than I can remember and because the light floods that person’s face, I can for the first time truly see who they are and feel love for them. I can walk by the same willow, season after season, and one day, because of the sheen of after-rain and the lowness of the wind, I can truly see the willow like never before, and feel love for the willow in all of us. I can, in the mirror late at night, after seeing myself hundreds of times, see the willow and the light and the other in my tired face, and know that sameness as the stuff of God.

In truth, it has never been about first meeting,though this can happen, but more about first coming into view.  As a breeze all spun out lets the water go clear, we finally stop talking, stop performing, stop pretending, and all tired out, we go clear, and the heart that rests in everything beats for us.

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