When I was a boy I used to worry that there wasn't enough love to go round. I thought love was like an apple pie – good stuff, but there was only so much of it and then it was gone.
When I was born I sort of assumed (as much as babies can assume things) that I had all my parents’ love. Then my younger brother was born and I had to share their love with him. Only half a pie now. And worse was to come. The next year another brother was born and my share of the pie went down to a third. Oh dear, what a disaster…..
No wonder we used to fight so much. The arguments we had on Sundays over who had the most fizzy drink with our roast dinner were nobody’s business!
Luckily for me, I thought, no more brothers or sisters arrived to take even more pie away from me. A third of a pie was better than nothing.
But of course, I realise now that this is all nonsense.
Love isn’t like that at all. It’s not finite, it’s infinite. In fact, weirdly, the more love you have the more there is around to share.
Another way of putting this – for those who like maths or game theory - is that love is not a zero sum. My gain is not your loss. My gain is also your gain. Or, if you like chemistry, we can state that love (like gas) expands to fill the space available.
And we can build up our capacity for love through meditation, and practicing random acts of kindness.
Why am I thinking about this now?
Well, it’s because I’ve just had a delightful cuddle this morning with Heath, my newest grandchild.
And a couple of weeks ago I was sitting in a (fortunately large) tent in the Peak District in the pouring rain with thirteen family members of various ages. It was busy, noisy, chaotic, exhausting - and yet totally wonderful to be part of all those loving interconnections.
I’ve got so many grandchildren now it’s easy to lose count, but the brilliant thing for me is that it simple doesn’t matter. They are all equally loveable, and there is no sense at all in my old worry that I somehow have to cut that love into bits and share it around.
Unlike the apple pie, there is plenty of love and always more to go round!