Friday, July 19, 2013

Day 5: Love

Me and my stupid promises...I am utterly exhausted tonight and now find myself having to write about love. I can't say that I feel much love right now. Why did I commit myself to doing this?

Yes, I am complaining, despite all of those fancy words I wrote last night. Not enough time to eat and sleep properly. A sink full of dishes that I keep not getting to. Finding a place to repair yesterday's flat tire. An emergency stuck into an already full schedule. Not to mention my cell phone signal quitting during a telephone session with a patient. No, I'm not feeling a lot of love at the moment...

Of course, there is a reason why I am writing my complaint here...

The word "love" is used so frequently and so loosely in our culture that I fear it has almost lost meaning. Love is too often confused with romance or sentimentality as though it were a mere feeling. (Even I succumbed to choosing a pink flower for this photo a couple of weeks ago, as though a reflection on love should look like a valentine.)

I am not feeling a lot of love at the moment but that does not mean that I am not completely and inexorably in love. Or perhaps I should say, in Love.

It is quite natural that we would like love to be of the happy feeling sort. It is no great mystery why our culture directs so much attention to romantic love: when going well, it feels very good. And we like to feel good. That is how we are made.

However, love, in its truest, deepest sense doesn't always feel good. In fact, it often does not feel good at all. Perhaps one of the keenest (and most painful) experiences of this is the new mother who finds that she feels love for her baby rarely if at all. She knew there would be interrupted sleep, dirty diapers and constant demands, but she didn't know how this would affect her feelings. She knows she loves her baby but she doesn't feel it at all in the way she had imagined in her sentimental daydreams. (It is good that we have sentimental daydreams or the species would never procreate.)

There are many other times when love, the feeling, fails to show up. When we are overtired. When a child behaves badly. When a spouse is selfish or chronically ill or emotional unavailable. When our dreams fall apart. And many, many other times.

The greatest act of love in human history most assuredly did not feel good. Not only were there nails and thorns, but there was the betrayal of friends and the humiliation of being treated unfairly. To have done so much good and then be publicly executed like a common criminal. To appear to the world to be an utter failure and to have only trust to hold onto. Jesus, the human being, could not have known that He would rise from the dead. He could only trust that He would - while feeling the blood drain out of His body.

Love, in the deepest sense, is a commitment, an inner knowing, an enduring. It is walking through the darkness, while trusting that there is light. And most importantly, it is not a solitary experience. It is the giving of self to Other (and all others) to which I am committed. It is the inner knowing that another is good when that goodness cannot be easily seen. It is an enduring, not for myself but for the other, even when it seems that I can endure no more. It is a willing entrance into the darkness so that another will not have to await the light alone.

And so I write to you this evening with great love. Not my own love which is weak and complaining - but with a Love that rescues me from myself. It is a Love to which we are all invited and that deepens in us the more we share it.

Come, my brothers and sisters. Let us love one another.

(You are invited to share your reflections, images or poetry relating to this series, as instructed here.)