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  • Writer's pictureMaggie Winfrey

Diving Deep to Love

"At last I have found it…MY VOCATION IS LOVE!…I will be Love! " - St Therese of Lisieux

Vacationing in my Panamanian birth-land with my son and daughter-in-law, we snorkeled for a few days off the Chocó Indians’ San Blas Islands on the north coast. Swimming on the surface we gasped in delight at each new discovery of exquisite coral structures teeming with dazzling fish swirling and hiding. A deeper azure lurked at the edge of the shallow coral field, looming as a dark, endless abyss. Gripped by fear as I came to the edge, I hesitated going further. Although I am an accomplished swimmer, I couldn’t trust that I would find more treasures below.

The same feeling might grip us when we approach Centering Prayer. Although intimidating at first, our deeper exploration reveals more valuable rewards. My friend Ben Wren calls it vertical plunging. We go deeper for a reason: to get to our true self. Our fears dissipate the deeper we go. We may start out with selfish motives, but they fall away. Facing our shadow selves is how to dissolve them. Illusions, unconscious influences, and misperceptions leave us, healing love replacing the void. We find the pearl of great price, hidden on holy ground. We can see clearly now. Mists evaporate in the brilliant light of True First Love who has loved us from the beginning.

The story doesn’t end here; it is just beginning. As our true self, we can now live as we are designed. Thomas Merton writes

"There exists for me a particular goal, a fulfillment which must be all my own--nobody else's… Because my own individual destiny is a meeting, an encounter with God that He has destined for me alone. His glory in me will be to receive from me something He can never receive from anyone else… My whole life is only that—to establish that particular contact with God which is the one He has planned for my eternity!

Once that contact is established—I feel it in my bones and it sets me on fire—the possibilities are without end. Unlimited fruitfulness, life, productivity, vision, peace. [1]

From her discovery, Therese of Lisieux explains how we live our unique purpose that ignites our hearts:

At last I have found it…MY VOCATION IS LOVE!…I will be Love! [2]

She speaks for all of us as we are invited to echo what we see happening within. Our inner experience reveals Divine Love pouring out continually and completely. We each complete our purpose in our own unique way by being love.

Like our heart keeps us alive pumping oxygenated red and white blood cells throughout our bodies to our capillaries and back, love is flowing healing grace that gives us life. We complete the stream we experience within by pouring out love in return. It is love because we give it away.

We may start out seeking love for ourselves. Then we discover it is not something to hoard. It is freely given. We receive more as we give away. So then let us BE love, each in our unique way.

Let your love flow like a mountain stream…

Let your love fly like a bird on the wing…

Let your love shine and you’ll know what I mean…[3]


[1] Thomas Merton, edited by Robert Daggy, Road to Joy: Letters to New and Old Friends, New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, Merton Legacy Trust, 1989, August 10, 1989.

[2] Therese of Lisieux, translated by John Clarke, OCD, Story of a Soul,Third Edition, Washington, DC, 1996, page 194

[3] The Bellamy Brothers 1976 ,“Let Your Love Flow,” 1976

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