Clearly the love of God and the love of neighbor are inseparable, intertwined. Loving God, we love our neighbor; loving our neighbor, we love God. It seems so beautiful and clear, but how do we manifest that love so that we are known as disciples of Christ?

Because the answer is so simple, it is hard. Love begins in humility, gratitude, and self-forgetfulness, in openness to the present moment without losing a sense of the past or an awareness of the future. Each moment that God gives us is a fractal. It is at once the earthly here and now and the deciding moment of eternity. Each day, God gives us the people we are to love - our family, our friends, the people at work, the strangers we encounter. Each of these people is a gift from God, our joy, and our brother or sister.

To some, we offer the gift of prayer; to some, the gift of ourselves; to some, the gift that eases material need. We can begin and end each day with a prayer for all whom we meet - the prayer attributed to the Elders of Optina or to Metropolitan Filaret of Moscow is a good beginning. "Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others." We can end each day in thankfulness for all whom we have seen and met.

Sometimes, we are asked to love steadfastly and constantly; sometimes a single encounter can encompass love for a lifetime. We trust God to guide us. We trust God that as we love, our love will be as free as His is, that it will be as truly freeing as His is. Love has power to bind, and we have to be careful that our bonds are firm but light. As Metropolitan Anthony asks in his Meditations, "Does our love set them free, does it give them an impulse to love and rejoice?"

Love is a talent given us by God - and we must be like the wise ones in the parable of the talents: we must increase it. We do not possess love. We spend it, and as we spend it, we sow it. And it grows by the grace of God.