Rule One

Last week we covered the four rules or the proper making of a fish sandwich (no, I’m not going to let that one die quietly) and inadvertently you got a good look at my “benign distortion” because I spent two days writing about rule two and gave nary a comment to rule one.

Rule one was, simply, “Love God.”

But there’s a richness in that apparent simplicity which I, the ineffable complicator extraordinaire, can turn into something impossibly complicated.

When you love someone, what do you do? Well, you pay attention to him. You keep your radar on for things he might like. You talk to him. You ask him questions. You wonder all the time what he thinks of you. You look for excuses to make contact.

I may not be 19 any longer, but I remember what it was like first being in love with my Patient Boyfriend, when I’d pick up a piece of candy and leave it in his mailbox because I passed it on the way home from class. Or the way I’d hope he had left a note for me. And how I’d write him long letters.

God doesn’t have a mailbox, but I think it’s the same. Maybe God gets a little thrill when we get all in-love with Him?

On a first date, what do you talk about? You say, “So, what do you do?” “Where do you live?” “Tell me about yourself?” You ask about hobbies, talk about common points of contact, find out if you’ve read the same books or listen to the same music.

Do we do that with God? Do we say, “So tell me a bit about yourself”? Do we look around with eagerness to see if He’s left something around for us to find in the middle of our day?

When you’re dating, you listen to your partner’s music because it gives you a shared experience. You might read his favorite author so you can talk about it, or watch basketball for the first time. (I did all three of those.) Do we do that with God? 

We get to know our boyfriend’s friends. We find out his hobbies and figure out how to participate or how to watch. We make room for ourselves in his life and make room for him in ours. We talk to other people about him. We ask to see his old photo albums. If he writes letters, we read them over and over. If he writes for the newspaper, we grab each column the day it comes out.

In other words, we pay attention to the person we love. We want to learn about him. 

And in doing so, we think that person is amazingly wonderful, almost too wonderful for us, but we want to be with him anyhow. We want to be a part of something together, make something wonderful, be partners. Be loved in return.

It’s just a two-word rule, but think how much it contains.


  1. whiskers

    I rather like to consider myself a self-centered pantheist, as I think the spark of the divine is in all things, myself first and foremost. As such, knowing myself is paramount, and I find that the days I feel best are the days when I treat myself really well. When I listen to my body, surround myself with things that make me happy and do good work.

    It sounds selfish, but in fact being happy and productive are the best ways to take really, really good care of everything else in my life. If I listen to my own needs, I can then tune myself outward and take care of my husband’s needs, the needs of the apartment, and our pet, and our parents and friends. By first acknowledging the divine within, I can better see the divine within everything else.

    When I take care of myself, chores don’t seem like work anymore, they become a logical extension of the care and attention I’m giving to my life.

  2. knit_tgz

    There’s also the reverse situation: if we pay attention to a person and try to get to know that person better, it often happens that we end up loving that person more (as a friend, or as a spouse, or whatever that person is to us).

    So, even if at first we have to make a conscious effort to be “dating God”, even if it is not spontaneously born out of our love for Him, it may very well end up increasing our love for Him.