“Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.”
— Kahlil Gibran

Ah, love!  Is there another four-letter word that has received so much attention?  “All you need is love.”  “Love makes the world go ’round.”  “Love will keep us together.”  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  So much of being human revolves around loving and being loved.  Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if we all could take Gibran’s advice and spend each day loving?

I was thinking this morning about loving your neighbor as yourself.  I’ve always heard that as “be kind to people;” but today I wondered whether we need to take this admonishment just a step further.  If I love others in the same way I love myself, should I be working first on the way I love me?  How can I have compassion for you if I have none for myself?  How can I forgive another person if there are things in me that I consider unforgivable?  Do I limit the love I bring to the world in the same way I limit my own acceptance of myself?

This adds a whole new dimension to the debate between those who say we must first love ourselves in order to love someone else and those who say we should set ourselves aside and put others ahead of our own needs.  I am thinking about times when anger has come between me and another person — thinking about the way that the path to any other kind of relating was always blocked by the obstacle that sat between us.  What happens when I hold onto negative feelings about myself?  How can I ever venture beyond them to love you?  How can I allow any love you send my way to find its way past the roadblocks I place in my own way?

Forgiveness, compassion, and love are the things I want to bring to my world.  I want to wake at dawn, knowing that my heart has wings and that it will soar through the day leaving good things wherever it goes.  Perhaps we should begin each day offering ourselves forgiveness, feeling compassion for the times when we have not been the people we would strive to be, and love who we are — including our flaws — so that we may honestly do the same for our neighbor.