Creating Love

Chapter 6: Living Souls. Have Compassion.


6.1 Living Souls

The story of creation in the Bible, like all stories there, is not so much about a natural process as a spiritual one. It is the story of how the Lord step by step creates a whole new world for each of us—a world of love, compassion, happiness and usefulness. Ultimately it is the Lord’s work (as we will see in more detail in the next article), but there are things we can do to cooperate with the Lord at each stage. Here is an overview of the steps in the process:

Day 1: Let there be light! Envision the possibility of the Lord's love being in your life and your marriage.
Day 2: Waters above and below. Get to know the Lord and your partner. Pay attention to your conscience and the teachings of the Word.
Day 3: Dry land and plants. Bear fruit. Do to each other every good. Do your best to serve the Lord, your partner and your community.
Day 4: Sun, Moon and stars. Light your fire. Commit to being loving, joyful, enthusiastic.
Day 5: Fish and Birds. Lift your thoughts. Think about heaven and eternal life. Forgive and be forgiven.
Day 6: Animals and People. Show empathy. Feel your partner’s joys as your own. Name the feelings.
Day 7: Rest. Trust the Lord to guide your marriage. Turn to Him as the source of all love.


6.2 Animals and Emotions

Right now our focus is on the sixth day—the creation of animals and people. Again, it is actually not about animals, but about something in each of us that is symbolized by the animals. When we call someone a snake, a pig, a fox, a bear or a weasel, the meaning is usually quite clear. Likewise when we call someone a lamb, a kid, a puppy dog or a kitten, we know what it means. Each animal has its own characteristics that we see reflected in various people’s attitudes and characters. Throughout the Bible, people are compared to animals of various kinds: sheep, goats, donkeys, wolves, lions, bears, depending on the kinds of feelings and desires they display. Even the Lord is compared to a lion, a lamb and other animals.

These animals reflect various emotions and attitudes that we have. We have all kinds of feelings, both positive and negative, intense and mild. These feelings are the life-blood of our minds. They influence all our thoughts and actions, even if we are unaware of them.

“If you take away the impulse of love, can you form any thought? Or can you perform any action? In the measure that the affection belonging to love cools, is it not true that in the same measure thought, speech and action cool? And the warmer the affection grows, the warmer they grow” (Married Love 34).


6.3 Human Love

As a genuine marriage involves joining of minds, it also means sharing feelings. The ability to share feelings is basic to human happiness. The Lord’s teachings for the New Church say,

“In the other life there is a most exquisite communication and perception of all the affections and thoughts, so that each person communicates his joy to all, and all to each, so that each one is as it were the center of all” (Secrets of Heaven 549). “Love consists in willing what one has to be another’s, and in feeling the other’s delight as delight within oneself. That is what it is to love.” (Divine Love and Wisdom 47).

As love is sharing another’s joy, it is also sharing another’s suffering. The words “empathy,” “sympathy,” and “compassion” all come from a root (pathos) that means both “feeling” and  “suffering.” They involve feeling with another person or getting into their feelings, particularly their suffering.

“Love is itself turned to compassion and becomes compassion when anyone who is in need of help is regarded from love or charity. So compassion is the effect of love toward the needy and miserable” (Secrets of Heaven 3063).

This is the kind of love that Jesus displayed.

“When He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

Love and compassion are what essentially make us human.

“Love and charity make a person human, while hatred, revenge, and cruelty make a wild animal of him” (Secrets of Heaven 1006).

Our fierce emotions are like wild animals, and our gentle ones like gentle animals, but our compassionate ability to feel another’s feelings is the truly human part of us.

Humans:   Love, Compassion
Gentle Animals:   Fear, Pain, Pleasure
Fierce animals:   Anger, Contempt

“Married love is unique to human beings, because none but human beings can become spiritual. They are able to raise their intellect above their natural loves, and from that height to look down on them and see them for what they are; they can also improve, correct and banish them. This is something no animal can do” (Married Love 96). 

“In a marriage of true married love, each partner becomes more and more deeply human, for that love opens the deeper aspects of their minds, and as these are opened, a person becomes more and more human” (Married Love 200).

In the Genesis story, the humans were to have dominion over the animals. God commanded this because He wants our inner compassionate self to govern our lower, worldly and self-centered feelings. Our human desires should be in control of our ani-mal desires. When we reach the level of true compassion in our relationships, we have reached the sixth day, and have become an image and likeness of God.


6.4 Naming the Feelings

You can practice showing empathy in your relationships any time, and the more you practice it, the easier it will become.  When the other person makes a statement (especially one that shows some feeling or might have strong feelings hidden within), respond with, “So you’re saying ‘I...’ ” and state in your own words what the other has said as if you were that person. By saying it in the first person (“I”) you will strengthen the feeling of empathy. Here is an example:

Tom: “Dinner’s not ready yet, is it?”

Nancy: “Are you saying, ‘I’m really hungry, and I’m frustrated that the food’s not ready when I am’?”

The second chapter of Genesis adds Adam naming the animals: “Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field” (Genesis 2:19-20). The teachings for New Church ex-plain this: “Animals symbolize the contents of the will, birds the contents of the intel-lect. Bringing them to the human to see, so that he could call them by name, means granting humankind the ability to recognize the nature of those feelings; the fact that he gave them names means that people recognized the nature of the feelings” (Secrets of Heaven 142). While animals share many emotions with people, people have the unique ability to reflect on their own emotions and recognize their quality, and also to recog-nize from compassion what others are feeling.

One of the great gifts you can give to another person is to name that person’s feel-ings. Often feelings are communicated non-verbally, in tone of voice, gesture and facial expression. Just saying, “You look worried,” “Are you afraid?” “So that really makes you happy...” or similar words can give a name to feelings that are just below the sur-face, help people feel really heard, and even help them recognize their own emotions better. Here is a three step process for showing empathy with another person:

  • Show that you are listening. Give complete attention to the other person and “mirror” what the other person has said by repeating key ideas. Invite your partner to go deeper by saying, “Is there more about that?”
  • Show that you understand. Summarize the person’s message or put it into your own words. Help your partner feel understood with words like, “It makes sense that you...”
  • Show that you empathize. Notice words, looks and gestures that show emotions. Imagine yourself it your partner’s position. Name the feeling: “You’re saying, ‘I’m sad/joyful/hopeful/upset...’ ”

Try to do this once a day with your partner, even if you can only do it for 3 minutes. Start with feelings and issues that are positive and agreeable. Leave the difficult issues and hard feelings for after you have practiced and established a good connection.