The day Love was illumined,
Lovers learned from You how to burn, Beloved.
The flame was set by the Friend to give the moth a gate to enter.
Love is a gift from the Beloved to the Lover—
I invite you on an adventure. It is a lifelong journey that will take you to the deepest, most sacred place within yourself. That powerful inner sanctuary resides in each of us—every human being on earth—and when we access this sanctuary, it grounds us in love, giving us the courage and resilience to stand up to fear. When we open our hearts and minds to love's abundance, we can transform not only our own lives, but also the lives of those around us, making the world a more just, peaceful, and caring place.
It has taken me a lifetime to understand that learning to embrace love and practice its habits at every turn are the deepest responsibilities we have as humans. I invite you to take a place by my side on this long and eventful journey, so that we may travel together, along with many others, toward a better life and a better world.
Those who fly through the sound barrier report that the cockpit shakes the most just before breakthrough. Similarly, the Habits of Love described in these pages took form for me through some shaky times: deciding to become a minister; leaving the religion of my childhood; working in different parts of the United States with very different congregations; learning to be a father and a grandfather; sharing my life with Hope, my wife. But the first glimpses of what would lead me on this turbulent and wondrous journey came when I was still just a little boy.
We were living in the small town of Jesup, along a historic railway stop in pine-studded, rural Georgia. My father was a Baptist preacher, school principal, and later the county school superintendent, and my mother was a teacher. Our home was a busy and comfortable one, its walls decorated with religious art, its shelves housing countless prized knickknacks. Hanging above the chest of drawers in my childhood bedroom was a simple framed picture of Jesus praying. For 18 years, I laid my head to sleep each night and opened my eyes each morning gazing at this image.
I remember every detail vividly. Jesus, dressed in a humble tunic, kneels in the grass in a lush garden by a rough-hewn boulder, his face open, upturned, and serene. Coming from above is a bright beam of light that bathes his features in warmth. Though he seems to be welcoming that light into himself, his expression suggests that he already knows it exists inside him. He is already home. Infused by the spirit of love, he recognizes the inner sanctuary that allows him to base his life in the force field of love. And so I, too, felt safe and consoled and empowered, night after night, dwelling in the constant light of love and acceptance.