The Altar of Love

The vast majority of us aren’t prone to anti-social behavior, but we aren’t always civil and courteous either. We don’t always keep to the highest principles and side with the force of love. Every day we make decisions that are either debasing or civilizing. So what are our standards? Do we give ourselves, then others, the dignity we all deserve as children of God? What kind of an example do we set?

Big or small, depending on our character, the tests are always there. When others seek to pull us in the wrong direction, do we stand our ground? Do we resist the temptation to succumb to our lower instincts and turn instead to the wisdom of our higher self? Do we choose the lazy way forward or will we work for the blessings of an ever-expanding heart?

The tests can be subtle, hidden in things so common, even widely encouraged, that they are easy to dismiss. “Breaking down” and eating foods we know we shouldn’t—it’s just one piece of cake, pie, or chocolate, or one donut or pint of ice cream, so no big deal, right? Watching silly online videos that claim to be funny yet show a cruel streak. Or bending rules when we know it’s wrong. Indulgences we wouldn’t be proud to announce. Cheating on a test. Lying to a spouse. All harm our dignity and civility and tear at the bonds of love that exist between us and others. Although God never stops loving us, our choices may indicate an unfortunate lack of reciprocity.

At home, at work, and with friends we are faced with the daily, implied question of where to draw the line between what is acceptable and what isn’t, what is constructive and what brings about a degree of collapse, what is wise or kind and what is foolish or hurtful. Every choice is between creation and destruction, love and power, life and death.

From moment to moment, even in the little decisions—such as the attitude we hold and the words we speak—it comes down to this: at which altar will you worship today? Darkness is simply what automatically fills the vacuum produced by an absence of love. It’s the default state that results if we stop living in the name of God.

So why would we? Willfulness. Selfishness. Fear. Our human nature tends in the opposite direction of our divine nature. Creatures of both Heaven and Earth, we choose the source of our influence one decision at a time. Whether we walk a high road or a low road depends on where we place our attention. Those who open their hearts to a higher power through prayer, meditation, and contemplation of the wonders of life act with wisdom and goodness.

A life centered on the divine—as both the source and the ultimate aim of our thoughts and actions—invariably leads to worshipping life. Love the life-giver and you will also love that which God imbues with life. Serve God and you must serve others, listening to their cares and attending to their wounds, walking with them when they pass through a valley of shadows and rejoicing with them in their times of triumph. The only way to open the heart to light and life is to find our way to the altar of love.

© 2012 Ilona Goin. All rights reserved.

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