In Each of Us is Both Great Hurt and Great Love

by Founder Killian Noe

“To love; it is what matters. It is why we were created.” Leo Tolstoy

The Recovery Café Network recently held one of our “All Network Conversations.” These conversations provide space for us to get to know each other more deeply while reflecting on topics relevant to our common mission. This time we discussed the topic of “difficult conversations.” There was so much wisdom shared. It struck me that the intention to love one another ran through most everything that was shared—the intention to love our own teammates, Café Members, and families of origin.

Spiritual teacher Anthony de Mello writes:

“The first act of love is to see another as they truly are and to see yourself as you truly are. This involves the enormous discipline of dropping your desires, your prejudices, your memories, your projections, your selective way of looking.

It is in the act of truly seeing ourselves and others that love is born, or more accurately this way of seeing is love.”

What are we able to see when we drop all judgements and preconceived notions and approach another as if for the very first time? (I am not referring to abusive relationships or other violations of human dignity.)

We are able to see that in each of us there is both great hurt and great love.

Recovery Café Frogtown (St. Paul, MN)

Being able to see the hurt underneath some of the behaviors and views that make another bewildering to us makes compassion possible. We are able to remember that the individual we find so bewildering has hurts just as I have hurts—and that lands us on common ground. I am not suggesting that we need to agree with everyone, just that we need to find dignity in all.

If we can truly see with fresh eyes past all the hurt within another and within ourselves, we can touch the love that abides at their core and our own. This is not founded on some rosy, sentimental hope for unity, but on the deepest universal truth; that there is within each of us a wellspring of love. It is not just in some of us; it is in all of us.  

When we see past another’s lifetime of emotional wounds—as well as our own—to the love within, we are beginning to truly love.

I would like to leave us with two reflection questions:

  1. What judgements or preconceived notions do we need to drop in order to truly see and love a teammate, a Café Member, or a member of our family of origin who we would rather not see or love?
  2. What group or individual would we prefer to leave outside our circle of compassion?