I grew up in MSIA. When I was five and six years old, we’d go over to the Stratigakes’ house for home seminars. As long as I sat through calling in the Light and the contributions, I could play with the Stratigakes boys for the rest of the evening. I remember chanting, “ani-puuuuu” and thinking that it was hilarious.
When I got a little older, and the Strats moved away, we’d still do seminars. Just me and my parents and I’d stick around to watch the seminar.
In July, we’d go to Conference. At first I was a baby sitter. And then I was a participant, having just signed up for Discourses after my mom asked me, “David, do you want to come to Conference with us?” We would drive down to the Sheraton Universal each morning and then the 60 miles back to Palmdale.
I remember those fruit-filled dessert tacos at the celebration dinner and always missing the fourth of July fireworks.
It happened a few times, where I’d start Discourses just in time for Conference, read them for a couple of months and then stop. It took me years to get through the whole box and then at some point I stopped all together.
Forward to 2007 and I’m in my college apartment at the desk in my room in front of the single-paned window that looks out into a thick foliage of a tree. I’m writing an email, sitting in a vintage black vinyl swivel chair with chrome legs that I grabbed from a campus dumpster.
The campus is UC Berkeley, and the apartment is on the North Side. Just east of Euclid, up the hill on Ridge road, tucked in amongst other student housing and right next door to a co-op named Stebbins – we call it The Stebs.
My hair is long, and my face is clean-shaven. I’m 19 years old.
My desk is wide and deep and has some small plants on it. My computer is a thick 17” MacBook pro that weighs about fifteen pounds.
I’m writing an email to one of my professors to thank her for the class we’ve just completed and I realize that I love her. I want her to know this, so I sign the email, “Love, David.” and I’m about to click send when I hesitate. I don’t want my sign-off to be misinterpreted as a come-on.
I start thinking about all of the letters and notes that I’ve written to people throughout my life. And how I’ve navigated this telling-people-that-I-love-them situation in the past. My friends, my girlfriend, my family, my teachers & bosses, and even strangers.
I remember that I would always make sure that the last thing I said to my mom and dad when they dropped me off at school was, “I love you.” If something were to happen while I was at school, I wanted to be sure that the last thing that they heard out of my mouth was “I love you.”
I remember the feeling of butterflies when I said, “I love you,” to my first girlfriend and she replied with the same. And I remember wondering if saying “I love you” meant that we would get married some day.
I always wanted people to know that I loved them. It was important to me and I sensed that there was a deeper experience of love than a lot of them understood. So I devised ways of saying ” I love you,” without really having to say it. In my senior year of high school, I had signed my friends’ yearbooks: “Much Love, Dave.”
Mostly I was concerned that the word love would be misinterpreted as a romantic or sexual thing, which in most cases it was not. It was the love of friends and brothers, the love of family.
Now, I’m finishing my letter of gratitude to my professor and I’m caught with this same question. How do I communicate my love?
I decided to go with my old fallback from high school: “Much love, David.” I don’t know if she understood what I meant or not. I do know that connecting years later has been important for both of us and that she’s on my “life mailing list” of the people who I keep informed about what’s going on in my world.
Back at my desk, I click the Send button and have a realization: Love is really important to me and I use it as a guiding compass in my life.
And then I have an epiphany: When I say, “I Love you,” the people in MSIA really know what I’m talking about. I realize, that I am a student of love, that love is my course of study and that I’ve selected my college classes based on my experience of the presence of love.
I knew that the MSIA family understood me when I talked about Love. And that John-Roger had taught me about Love, whether or not I paid close attention at my family’s home seminars.
I chose to enroll myself in the school of love and I signed up for Soul Awareness Discourses, not just to go to Conference, but to go to a place where I felt understood – a place where I could ask direct questions about the nature of love and receive answers.
I would come home from class, stretch out on the white freebee couch under the loft that I had built and do my Spiritual Exercises. When my roommates asked me what I was doing, I was nervous to share so I just told them I was napping. And then I said, “I love you.”
Now that I’ve been studying love for a while, I’m learning that love is not just about saying “I love you” over and over again (although that can help) but really more about the being and the presence of love and a certain way of showing up. It’s about all the other things that MSIA teaches – taking care of yourself, taking care of others, and learning from every situation that life brings.
In my life, J-R is the number one grand-master of living love and his presence and demonstration has made all the difference.
So there you have it.
I Love you.