“Love One Another….”

April 7, 2009

chocolatecakejpeg1A reminder of love in a world where love is often hidden…

Do we know the people we love?    We say we  do, we say we love them,   we feel love when we think about them – and often, those real moments of love in which we can feel the love itself – are hidden in the folds of daily life,  the worry that permeates our world in these times,  the routine of automatic communication that leaves no room for the beauty of what love truly is.

When I first started in transformation education at Landmark Education, there was a course I took in which we had to create a “map” of our closest circle – those people who are in our lives on a regular basis, with whom we interact daily, or at least weekly, who create the fabric of our lives.

My map was virtually empty – my son and my ex-husband and a sprinkling of friends around the country.  I realized that I didn’t have a circle – I didn’t have a community, I didn’t have many people with whom to weave a rich, textured fabric in my own life.

I went up to the leader, embarrassed to admit that my map was meager. She listened to me, looked at my almost empty page, and said, “Make them up!”   I went back to my seat.

I stared at my map, stunned by her instruction, feeling silly and alone. After a few moments, I thought, “I have family. I rarely talk to them, but they are my family nevertheless. Why would I make people up when I have a whole family that I could be close to?”

In that moment, I took a stand that my family would be what I would transform for myself – I would get in communication, I would learn about their lives, I would be there for them, I would love them.

So, let me tell you about my brother, Ralph. He is strong and dependable and has always been there for his family. He’s not quite a year younger than I am – something we joke about, that we are the same age for four days out of the year. He’s married to his high school sweetheart and has four girls, Nicole, Tiffany, and the twins, Jacki and Julie. He is an engineer by education and worked at Rohm and Haas for all of his working years, retiring in January of 2007.

And he never talks. Not that he can’t talk – he doesn’t talk. Or he didn’t talk to me, anyway. To illustrate, I was in a car with him for a long ride about 10 years ago, babbling away in the seat beside him until I realized he hadn’t said anything for a quite some time. I said, “My jaws hurt from talking so much! It’s your turn. Tell me what has been going on with you.” After we laughed at the strange injury to my jaw, I shut up and we continued driving.

We rode in silence for 15 minutes. Finally, the silence was unbearable!  I turned to him and said, “I can’t stand it any longer…! Aren’t you going to say anything?” We both laughed and that was the end of that.  We continued on and I talked the entire time.  I never did find out what was going on for him.

I had rarely seen or spoken to him since.

I took my stand for love and family.  I started calling my brothers and sister… and little by little, I was invited to family events and dinners. The summer after, I was invited to my brother, Ralph’s, house in Avalon with his family for their yearly summer vacation.

Before I left, I actually thought about who I would BE in the presence of his family — I didn’t want it to go the way it’s always gone – a lot of automatic interactions, a lot of opinions and defenses, a lot of awkward moments – and my brother, once again silent in my presence.   And so, I created myself as being Love, no matter what came up, no matter what anyone said — I would not babble, I would not lecture, I would not talk all the time – I would not defend my opinions or positions about anything. I would just let it all be the way it was and simply love them.

The week was beautiful — the grandchildren were there – Sophia, Luke, and Olivia — and so it had that magical quality that young children always bring to a space… laughing and running around and giggling – running into the waves at the beach and getting sand all over us — I let myself get carried away with it all.

Finally, on the last day I was there, everyone else had gone to the beach and my brother and I were talking at the house about the plant he had just finished building in Shanghai. He had spent almost 2 weeks out of every month traveling to China for the three years prior to his retirement. He mentioned that he had pictures of the plant.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have asked to see them. My Goodness! It was a plant for  — I didn’t even know what kind of products! This time, I heard something in my brother’s voice…. I asked to see the pictures. He seemed surprised but pulled out his laptop and started showing me hundreds of pictures of this project in Shanghai that had consumed his life for all this time.

The more pictures he showed me, the more he spoke — he pointed out the glass walls, the interior details, and the “water element” that the Chinese people believe is good luck… how challenging it was to create this side of the building or that pond….  I heard his admiration for the Chinese people and his love of their country…

I was looking at the pictures and I was glancing at my brother’s face… how animated he became as he spoke of something that he had devoted his life to over the past three years…!  I realized that this was the first time I had ever truly listened to him.  He had a whole life I never knew about – a passion that excited him and was a driving force in his life – all hidden from my view!

I was overwhelmed with love for him….

I was suddenly sorry that this had only come up on the last day.   I wanted to sit there and listen to him for hours more…   I didn’t want this time to end.

Soon, it was time for me to leave to take the bus back to Manhattan.

I gathered my belongings and positioned my suitcase by the door. I walked back to where my brother was sitting, now watching one of his favorite car races on television. I leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, “I love you so much,” I said and turned to go. I heard his voice as I walked away….

“Same here,” he said.

The tears came into my eyes, moved in a way that took me by surprise.  I grabbed my suitcase and wheeled it out the door and down the street towards the bus stop.

I sat on the bench, waiting for the bus, thinking about my brother and all the things I never knew about him – not because he wasn’t willing to tell me but because I wasn’t open to hearing them.  Before that, it was always about me and there was no room for him.  For the first time, what was created was a space of love, devoid of me and my ego – that allowed the magnificence that he is – and always was — to rise up and shine!

I now know that love can only be seen in an empty space…. a space of allowing and giving and silence and presence…. a space where all is open to the love that is always there….

Like right here, right now…

Deliciously yours in the Glory of it all!   Linda

“A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another;  as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34

dontwelookalikeexceptfortheredhairmeandralphHere’s a picture of me and my brother, Ralph Ruocco.

 

 

 

 

 

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and “Spritiual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

10 Responses to ““Love One Another….””

  1. Mrs. Whte said

    This is my brother and I! How I’ve longed to know anything about him. He too is a man of very few words and even fewer interactions. I have prayed for years that he knows how much he means to me. I understand that it can be more than wishful thoughts, but real love that’s alive and exchanged. I am creating the space for love between us now — thank you!

  2. Michele Barnett said

    I think you have touched on a sad part of contemporary life. We tend to keep some kind of noise going on because we don’t know how to feel comfortable in our own presence. My alcoholic first husband always had 2 tvs & radios on all the time. After he died a friend came to visit and said, “You need to have a radio on – some background music!” I told her, “No, I don’t. I like my company and I cherish the silence & solitude.” How many people do we not really “know” just because we couldn’t shut up for a few minutes! Thank you for your insights.

  3. Wow, Linda: you really come to life when you write about love and relationship. What a gift! — Victoria

  4. […] by saying too much – Just read parts of it below. And, needless to say, check, out the whole ‘Love one Another‘ blog […]

    • spiritualchocolate said

      Thank you for reading! It’s quite a treat to get my first “ping-back”. If you like Landmark Education stories, try “Mighty Companions go with you….” a few posts down on the blog…. it’s all about when I signed up and took my LF…… xoxo Linda

  5. Doug Longo said

    Dear Linda
    A very insightful story that emphasises the the importance of family and making every effort to keep
    ones involvement with family active.I have family and stepfamily and I try to see and communicate with them as much as possible.I never do as much as I think I should be doing.But stories like yours encourage me to keep up the effort.Thanks.
    Take Care!
    Doug

  6. Bill said

    I have two sisters. One died suspiciously in October 2005, and my other sister and I are involved with trying to get her suspicious death investigated, with little success. We have not yet begun to grieve her loss. You are lucky that you reached out to your brother to make the connection you wanted and fulfill something missing in your life. Though I saw my sister, Joyce, each time I visited my father in NJ, our time together was somewhat superficial, by her choice; I never forced the issue, which is something I now regret. As a result of Joyce’s death, Carolyh and I have become much closer. Don’t wait until it is too late. We all need to reach out to our family and friends and bring them into our lives.

  7. Le Ngoc said

    Hi Mrs. Linda,
    I’m Ngoc. I know your brother, mr. Ralph and i’m his friend from Vietnam. I lost his email address and now, i can’t communicate with him for a long time. Can you give me his email add?
    I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
    Wish you have a nice day! ^_^

    • spiritualchocolate said

      Dear Ngoc,
      How wonderful that you found him through my blog! I’ve sent him your emails and he will write to you. Lots of good luck! Warmly, Linda

  8. Le Ngoc said

    My email address: keodaungotngao@ymail.com
    Thank you!

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