In a discussion with a friend, an interesting distinction arose between love and gratitude. Love, I realized, wasn’t something you really culture. It pre-exists. It is the flow of life itself. Rather, love is what we open to, under all the noise of thoughts and emotions.
What we instead culture is that openness, that allowing, then the love that is there becomes more conscious, then begins to flow through us much more fully.
Gratitude is a little different. It is a consequence or effect, a response to love. In its purer state, it is the result of the recognition of that flow of love as the fundamental nature of all life and creation. In our day-to-day life, it is the recognition of goodness flowing to and through us.
I’ve spoken before about how culturing gratitude is great way to resolve past hurts and forgive. But it also cultures an openness to what is and thus is a means to open to love.
The analogy that comes to mind is a garden. There are some things we can culture in the garden of life to see more bountiful fruit. But much of the work is not done by the gardener at all. Past feeding and culturing, their job is to get out of the way. If they pull a seed up every few days to see how it’s doing, it won’t. But if they trust the process and create the best conditions, the garden will flourish.
That is the key to the spiritual journey. To culture those conditions that make the flowering as quick and smooth as possible. But to be patient for the season to come when the garden will bear fruit. For come, it must.