“What is the RADICAL LOVE Methodology?” is a question I’ve been hearing a lot lately. As I move forward to share these tools with the world beyond those directly served at One Tree Center, I’m aware that the term RADICAL LOVE needs some explanation.
These two powerful words embody 11 values that spell out RADICAL LOVE and were gifted to me one Easter Morning 15 years ago. The 11 values came from the heart of a 5-year-old child who listened through silence and made a conscious choice to share with me a crayon and blank piece of paper while sitting in Easter Mass. She was my niece, sitting at the other end of the pew in the Catholic Service that I attended with my family of 11 to celebrate Easter—the holiday of rebirth and transformation.
As an adult who had grown more skeptical of the Catholic Church as an institution, its mission, and its values, I still chose to honor my family’s traditions of coming together on holidays, attending the mystical mass, and celebrating with food, games, and dialogue. This became a rarer event as my siblings and I became adults with our own families and values, but we continued to come together each year to connect in celebration and love.
My 5-year-old niece saw me at the opposite of the end of the pew sitting in meditation and passed a crayon and paper all the way down through each family member’s hands into mine. My sister Margaret, who was sitting next to me, handed the crayon and paper to me and said, “These are from Abby.” I asked, “Why?” She said she did not know. I looked down the pew and asked Abby with my eyes, “Why do I have these two items?” She looked at me and imitated the act of writing. She told me in silence to get writing.
I didn’t question her, since I knew from my work with children that they are wise beyond their years and tend to have a deeper message speaking through them that I need to honor. In that moment, I entered back into a meditation, asking Spirit to guide me in what I was meant to write. It was then that these 11 words came to me–Revolution, Altruism, Dialogue, Intention, Commitment, Accountability, Liberty; Learning, Openness, Visioning, Empowerment. I wrote frantically, not knowing what these words meant or why I was writing them, but simply listened and let the crayon do its job. After writing them down, I noticed the first letter of each word spelled out two larger words: RADICAL LOVE. I knew that these needed to be researched, practiced, and eventually shared with the world. RADICAL LOVE was always something I was fascinated with understanding, as it was this teaching that I believe Jesus embodied and practiced.
Being raised Catholic, I was taught about the Christian Peace Leaders. Jesus, Blessed Mother, Mary Magdalene, and the Saints. Jesus and Mary were two individuals who really stood out to me and guided me in my own journey. While in undergrad I opened up my heart to other traditions as I began to challenge the institution, always wanting to be a woman priest and being told no. In my journey of Protestantism, Buddhism, Paganism, and other world religions, I was inspired by the thread of the law of love that embodied all faiths. I knew that these two words, RADICAL LOVE, and the 11 values embodied within them were values that crossed world religions, political agendas, and cultural groups. Their goal is a universal language that enables all people to explore and sit at the table in compassion, openness, and grace.
I have held these words close to my heart for a very long time and chose in the past 12 years to design and manifest a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving children and families in learning how to apply RADICAL LOVE in their lives, both at home and school. As the world enters this time of rebirth and transformation, experiencing much darkness and glimpses of light, I am being asked to share this methodology beyond the walls of One Tree and the families I serve each year. This is my small contribution to the larger world. It is a message that came from a child, who listened to what I believe was a greater higher power, to share with me a simple crayon and blank piece of paper. In practicing these values to the best of my ability over the past 15 years, I learned the power they hold in transforming the dark into light, and understanding how dualistic thinking of us-versus-them limits all of us on this planet. Even if it feels dark now, we can bring back the light with the power of RADICAL LOVE.