No not a physical cell or organ, but a neighbor. A relationship formed over a couple decades. Loving your neighbor as yourself, at least trying to, has its consequences. Especially when two people afford each other vulnerability, exposing their deepest thoughts and beliefs.
That kind of love is tangible and when love is lost, it is felt physically. To have never loved is to have never lived, and also to have never felt true pain. Physical pain most often is short term and affords recovery. When relationships are lost in death, the pain is non-recoverable, inevitably requiring life adjustments, which we call grief.
Grief then helps us become real again. "Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real." (Velveteen Rabbit).
Real happens when life happens between ourselves and our others. This is the true beauty of humanity, unlike other species, though I must admit, our dear pup, Coach sure comes close!
Bowels of compassion may best describe the positive affects of loss. I felt that yesterday as I met with my friend's widow. Seldom am I at a true loss for words, but the shock of an unexpected death will do that. Especially if life situations seem to have distracted from what could have been an even deeper more intimate friendship.
Both of us, but she in particular were struggling with a nasty sense of guilt, though none was there on her part. Guilt and remorse are the immediate thoughts that first surface when sudden loss occurs. Though thankfully buffered over time, it still may stain our hearts, apart from a spiritual release, a cleansing that often comes by way of opening ourselves to love from others. Humans were not designed to be alone! Together is where healing occurs.
Time for togetherness, neighborliness in this case is the challenge as time is the currency of love. Often in our capitalistic society, we only trade time for money, though its profits us little in times of real life crisis. The threat of being without means, or perceived as some "less than" status can unknowlingly drive our lives. We can "maximize our time" such that we minimize our relationships. No one early on ever really taught me that, but life now has, and several times in these last few months!
We were designed by Love for love.
Somehow we know this, our bellies even yearn for it, but we never really recognize it until pain points this out.
Just this past Monday one of my long time mentors, Richard Rohr wrote, "Spiritual knowing and spiritual cognition are always really re-cognition. It’s the realization that what we already know is true at some deep level."
My friend and I wrestled often with our theology. Hopefully in all our conversations, he "re-cognized" that he was loved by me and saw Love in me.
My task now is to love the one whom he loved in his absence, and in doing so, Love will also grow in me, perhaps at some point "a spring of living water" sufficient to fill my bowels, such that my time will be better spent and the returns eternal.