Perhaps none of us has the experience of always feeling unconditionally loved all the time – but if there is anything in the concept of logos therapy – a combination of the role of meaning and of Christocentric spirituality – then love is going to play an important part.
It in the Christian New Testament where we find the wonderful holy trinity of English words – “God Is Love” – and the four-word phrase “You are my beloved”.
Henri Nouwen’s book Life of the Beloved explores the concept of belovedness through another four words: chosen, blessed, broken and given.
To be chosen gives life a profound meaning. We do not always know why we are chosen, or what we are chosen for. But to be chosen means to be loved. And it does not necessarily mean that others are unchosen or rejected.
To be beloved is to be blessed. And through gratitude we can know what this means experientially. Prayer is where we can listen and appreciate as much as talk to God. Gratitude and prayer fill life with a meaning that passes all understanding.
We are all broken in some way, but perhaps the brokenness lets in love and light as well as being a source of pain. Christ’s way to the cross was through betrayal, loss and agony. And yet through that suffering came spiritual transformation, resurrection and hope.
“Whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”from the Letter to the Philippians
A Christocentric view of suffering gives meaning even to the worst experiences.
To be beloved is to have received so much love that we can give love away, “love one another” and be “the servant of all”. Life has much wider meaning than our own existence. Our contributions to the existences of others create new meanings whose echoes go beyond our own lives.
Even in death, there is love and belovedness.
“unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”from John’s Gospel
Love is stronger than death. Understanding belovedness gives meaning to all who have died, all who are dying, all who will die.
This poem was inspired by The Little Flowers of St. Francis – in some ways, the whole book is about belovedness:
The moment of death
will be ours too one day
Will we then be able to bless and say
‘At your going out and in your dying
may God be with you’?
And may God be with you as you pursue your own quest for meaning in life and in belovedness.