My conversations with my boys have taken a more philosophical tone this year, and they have covered ideas from what it means to be human to the nature of truth. We agree on many things but on many others we do not. One thing we cannot agree on is the nature of love. They hold that love is a feeling and therefore impermanent. I beg to differ.
Love is the substance from which the universe is made. It is the essence of God Himself. But, you say, it is not concrete, it cannot be perceived by the five senses with which we experience the “real” world.
Au contraire, mes amis.
Can we not caress the precious face of a newborn baby? Can we not hug those we love tightly to us? Can’t I twist and fidget with my wedding band? Can’t I trail my fingers over the Christmas ornaments my sons made in elementary school and touch the love they brought home with pride and joy? Touch the soft fur of a purring cat, or the cool freshness of a tumbling mountain stream, or the hard solid rock of a soaring mountain, and try to tell me that these things are not made of love. Not merely with the spirit of love, but of a substance which can be molded and shaped to produce the great beauty we experience as we interact tangibly with our world.
What of taste? People say that my cookies are the best they have ever had. Surely an exaggeration. Anyone can make the recipe on the back of the Nestle’s Toll House package. But if they are truly special, is it not from taking the ingredients and combining them to bring out the potential of love in each? What of the “close your eyes and taste” experience of a fine meal from a talented chef? Isn’t his/her love for the food and the process of cooking creating an palatable feast of love?
Sound? Pachelbel’s Canon. The Moonlight Sonata. The Nutcracker. Silent Night. The Hallelujah Chorus. Children at play. Laughter. Feel the vibrations of the music in your skin and know that the sound is as real as any tree, or bird or building.
Sight? The Dolomite Mountains in Italy. Neuschwanstein Castle. The Biltmore House. English cottage gardens. The Pieta. Christmas decorations. God-made or man-made, the heart knows it is in the presence of love and swells at the sight of it.
Smell? Bread baking. A fragrant rose. A forest after rain. The head of a newborn baby. Christmas trees. Newly cut grass. Breathe deeply and take in the undeniable evidence of love manifested as a real, sensory experience.
I will tell you that all of these things and more exist as love whether anyone is there to perceive them or not. (If a tree falls in the forest, and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?–Of course it does.) The love in the heart of the creator (or Creator) combines with the love that is the substance of Creation to become the real, solid items that allow us to experience love in its most tangible form.
But what of the greater Love? The nearly solid, nearly visual feeling that exists between mother and child, man and woman, Man and God? It is the most powerful thing that exists in all of Creation. Stop, close your eyes, and allow it to wash over you. Does your breath catch in your chest? Does your heart become overwhelmed to the point that it skips beats? Not everyone is fortunate enough to know this experience, but once you have, it changes you forever.
- Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
― Elizabeth Stone
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-7,(NIV)4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love perseveres. It is not subject to the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” It is a decision, and once decided beyond compromise. So I say to my sons: Love is permanent. It is tangible. It is the real substance of the universe and the motivation for all of the great, beautiful things that exist within it. It is the physical existence of your bodies, the product of the love that exists between your father and me, combined with the omnipresent love of the Creator. It is the decision I made before you were born, and it is the reality of our bond throughout this life and beyond.
- 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NKJV)13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.