“One of the most beautiful gifts in the world is the gift of encouragement. When someone encourages you, that person helps you over a threshold you might otherwise never have crossed on your own.” – John O’Donohue, Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong
I realized in a new way today one of the qualities which makes my parents so special. I have three younger brothers and I imagine that all four of us would readily attest to the fact that our parents, on the balance, nourished us with unconditional love throughout our childhood. That constancy of love in and of itself was a wonderful provision for which I am deeply thankful. But when I consider how incredibly encouraging their unconditional love was and continues to be, I consider what they so selflessly gave us to be nothing short of a miracle.
A house becomes a home when it is filled with unconditional love. That love purifies the hearts and minds of those who dwell in such a home, by putting pressure on that which is not consistent with its spirit. As uncomfortable as that can be at times, love also brings with it one of the greatest gifts that can be given: the gift of encouragement.
My parents’ consistent love forced me to question the times when I doubted myself. Their love carried me though the darker times, the times where their belief in me was all that I had. I never felt I had to earn their love, for it was always provided, but I always felt compelled to do my part – to bring the highest and finest of which I was capable at the time – in reply. Love is a magical spirit, really.
Love inspires the mind and heart to soften. When they do, when a person relaxes his defenses and pretenses, his soul finds easier and fuller expression from within outward. That transparency facilitates the unification of the inner soul with the outer soul, that is, body, mind, and heart. Love, in this sense, enkindles oneness by virtue of the encouraging forces which are intrinsic to its nature.