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Oatmeal Love

Stirring the Oatmeal, excerpted from the book We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love by Robert A. Johnson.

“Whether in our birth family or one of our own creation, we find a connection there that makes even ordinary occurrences meaningful.

“Many years ago, a wise friend gave me a name for human love. She called it ‘stirring-the-oatmeal’ love. She was right: Within this phrase, if we will humble ourselves enough to look, is the very essence of what human love is, and it shows us the principal differences between human love and romance.

“Stirring the oatmeal is a humble act—not exciting or thrilling. But it symbolizes a relatedness that brings love down to earth. It represents a willingness to share ordinary human life, to find meaning in the simple, unromantic tasks: earning a living, living within a budget, putting out the garbage, feeding the baby in the middle of the night. To ‘stir the oatmeal’ means to find the relatedness, the value, even the beauty, in simple and ordinary things, not to eternally demand a cosmic drama, an entertainment, or an extraordinary intensity to everything. Like the rice hulling of the Zen Monks, the spinning wheel of Gandhi, the tent making of Saint Paul, it represents the discovery of the sacred in the midst of the humble and ordinary.”

I think this is such a great term for so much of the service done to support the work of Live Oak. It’s rarely glamorous and if everything is going smoothly, it may be “unseen” for the most part. But it’s a way of putting our love into action. It’s making the coffee Sunday morning, replacing light bulbs in the building, checking on members who are ill or going through a difficult time. It’s committee meetings and spreadsheets and planning events. It’s straightening the sanctuary after the service, putting chairs away after a meeting, cleaning up after a social event.

We’re stirring the oatmeal. A humble act that represents that we are in community with each other, we are making the counter-cultural decision to be part of an intentional, intergenerational village, committed to “getting good and doing good,” to paraphrase Unitarian James Freeman Clarke’s words from 1866.

Coming out of the isolation of the pandemic, I think we have a new appreciation for just how valuable this is. Have you not found the right fit yet for your service? Drop me a line at and let’s talk about your particular gifts and interests.