First Love

Have you ever been in love?  I mean that can’t eat, can’t sleep, head over heels, drive you crazy throw your phone across the room while running simultaneously to catch it to ensure that you won’t miss a phone call?   I’m talking about Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook meets Pablo Neruda’s Veinte Poemas de Amor y Una Canción Desesperada (Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair) kind of love?  A love that is with you, everywhere you go.  A constant presence that you cannot evade because its dwelling resides within you.  There is no escaping it.  It is a force that bonds you to its magnetic field, and all that is left to do is to surrender.

As I think about my First Love’s (yes, there have been many).  Now, now, don’t you sit there judging me!  (Why am I suddenly speaking with a Southern accent?!)  Allow me to explain…

First Love – God

St. Helen Roman Catholic Church, South Gate, CA

My first love, at least the first memory I have of feeling loved is the love of God.   It’s not like I remember someone telling me, “God loves you.”  It was something deep in me.  A knowing.  A love for Jesus Christ because I truly believed that He watched over me.  That He cared for me.  That He could hear me! I remember walking those few blocks from my home on Missouri Avenue in South Gate, CA to Firestone Boulevard.  I would go during the week when the church was empty.  Kneel at the main altar, look at the crucified image of Jesus, pray, sprinkle holy water on my forehead, and pray some more.  I would then walk around the empty church and stop at every Station that depicted La Villa Dolorosa, longing to be close to God.  It was a calling that even as a child, I could not ignore.  And, although I am not a practitioner of the Catholic faith, I hold the image of the temple I visited with sweet nostalgia because that building represents a time of holy communion between a little girl and her Maker.

First Love – Mamá Jovita

Mamá Jovita (a.k.a. Jovita Tovar De Hernandez)

I am grateful to my maternal grandmother (Mamá Jovita) who introduced me to her practice of worship infused with complete love and devotion.  There are many qualities my family and I inherited from my Mamá Jovita.  She cared for the sick, fed the hungry, sheltered stray dogs (or as we call them perros callejeros) visited the blind.  She was strong, modest, beautiful and was taken from us too soon.  I was only eleven when she passed away but there is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t think of her.  I often picture her making gorditas for breakfast, stirring the hot chocolate and serving me pan dulce (sweet bread) for a bedtime snack.   But what I remember most about her is how much she loved me.  (Of all the grandchildren, I knew I was her favorite!)   My heart expands as I think of her and I am grateful for the inheritance of her giving heart, mainly, her maternal love for me.

First Love – My Children

I have never known love the way I know it as a mother.  Talk about a love that doesn’t let you sleep or eat.  During the early years, you’re definitely not sleeping!  Sometimes not eating especially when your child insists on eating from your plate even though you offered to serve them their own (my middle child was and Still is the culprit).

1997, My kids, (Brontë, Anthony, Priscilla) and me. Montebello, CA

Wherever you go, they go because no-one wants to watch them (my firstborn)!   And even though they are able to walk on their own, somehow they climb and cling to your body, (my youngest daughter was always affixed to my hip).  Forget about “me time” there is no me time!  They have some kind of locator on you that alerts them when you try to sneak away for a bath.  Dressed in full S.W.A.T. gear, they track you down and break in!  And with all of that, in addition to being their chauffeur, butler, housekeeper, nurse, financial backer and most of all protector (don’t you touch a momma’s child!) it is a love that surpasses the senses.  My Children.  My First Love.  The purest love I’ve known.

First Love – Mi Vieja

Mi Vieja (Noemi) and me.

My arsenal of love is incomplete without the love of Mi Vieja my old lady.  (This is a term of endearment that we call each other, and I’m not sure how we started!)  What I am certain of is I don’t know how I would have gotten through times of extreme despair if it were not for her.  This love is called Friend.  It’s a love that calls you out when you’re being arrogant.  It’s a love that makes you laugh, like rolling-on-the-floor-tears-flowing-clapping-of-the-hands, laugh.  It’s a love that knows you’re about to go psycho and tells you, “Don’t move! Where are you?  I’ll be right there.”  And drops everything to meet you in a parking lot at the park to simply embrace you while you cry, secretly saving you from self-destruction.  It’s a love that helps you pick up the shattered pieces of your heart, while not uttering a word.  It’s a love that sits with you in silence.  It’s a love that has zero judgment.  No matter what. No matter what.

First Love – The Love of My Life

The Love of My Life and Me

Then we have The Love of My Life.  This love?  Ah, this love!  It is a love that elevates you to euphoria and plunges you to the darkest moments of despair.  I mean the kind of love that fills your stomach with butterflies, or whatever it is that is happening in there when you see him.  It’s a love that physically affects you, like, “I can’t breathe.  My chest hurts,” because you’re about to break up.  It’s the kind of love that has you kicking the door of his truck while yelling “Leave!” followed by, “Wait, where are you going?” as he begins to drive away!  (Disclosure: I’m totally depicting a scene from the movie The Notebook and in no way shape or form does it resemble my past events)! It’s a love that makes your eyes sparkle when he kisses you; makes you smile when you’re alone while driving and grin like an idiot when you go to bed.  It’s a meeting of the eyes that have no need for words.  It’s a mutual love that is rooted in the soul.  A love that makes you shake your head because you cannot understand the why you simply know what is.  It’s a love that you have always wanted. It’s being in love with someone who is in love with you.

First Love – Love of Self

The last love that I have come to know, is the Love of Self.  It’s taken me some time to get here, but, I have arrived, and oh! is it beautiful!!!  I tried to love myself before, but never really succeeded, and then about two weeks ago, something just clicked.  My mom shared with me Joseph Benner’s book The Impersonal LifeFrom the moment I read the first line, I began to cry and I didn’t understand the reason.  I felt like that little girl that walked around the church looking up to see a glimpse of God, and witnessing it with my whole heart, only now, the Voice of God that I long awaited did not speak through a thundering cloud from the heavens, but a quiet voice from within Me saying,

Car Selfie, me. 🙂

“To you who read, I speak.

“To you, who, through long years and much running to and fro, have been eagerly seeking, in books and teachings, in philosophy and religion, for you know not what Truth, Happiness, Freedom, God;

“To you whose Soul is weary and discouraged and almost destitute of hope…”

I felt the voice of God speaking to me, through me, for me, from me.  But how From Me?  The author continues,

“Who am I?

“I, Who speak with such seeming knowledge and authority?


“I AM You, that part of you who IS and KNOWS; WHO KNOWS ALL THINGS,

“And always knew, and always was.

“Yes, I AM You, Your SELF; that part of you who says I AM and is I AM;”

These words brought my existence into the complete revelation that the Self, My Self, is not separate from God, from Source, from All that Is, but is a living expression of creation itself!  And with all of its profound knowledge, lured me to fall in love for the first time with My Self, the Impersonal Self that is the God Self finding expression through ME (Michelle).

It seems that Life has brought me back to my First First Love, my childhood love, my Love for God, which I now understand is  Love of Self.

I use to think it was Selfish of me to put my Self first.  For many years I wore the cloak martyrism.  I served my children, my home, my family, my sweetheart, the utility company, the bill collector, my job, my boss, and everyone else, but never me.  I denied my health.  I denied my happiness. I closed doors.   I nailed my dreams to the cross of a reality that my personality created.

As stated in Joseph Benner’s book, when we have an idea, it’s not our idea, it is the idea of Creation seeking expression through you and me.  And so all that is left for me to do is to surrender.  Like hands up in the air, you got me!  I surrender!  I truly surrender!

And now that I think of it, I surrendered a long time ago.  As a little girl, I surrendered.  As a young woman, I surrendered.  While standing at the altar of my mother’s church, I raised my hands and surrendered.  The following passage immediately comes to mind,

Isaías 6:8 Reina Valera 1977 (RVR1977)

Después oí la voz del Señor, que decía: ¿A quién enviaré, y quién irá de nuestra parte? Entonces respondí yo: Heme aquí, envíame a mí.”

Isaiah 6:8 New King James Version (NKJV)

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:

“Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?”

Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

Who will sing the songs?  Who will write the books?  Who will play the guitar?  Who will fight the fight?  Who will paint?  Who will dance?  Who will feed the hungry?  Who will speak for those that cannot speak for themselves?

Will you go, dear friend?  Will you answer the call?  Will you surrender and say,  “Heme aquí, envíame a mi.”  “Here I am! Send me.” We are but travelers in this lifetime.  Let us together, do the work that we were called to do.  Let us together becoming all that we were meant to become.

With love…always,



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