I’m still chewing on what it looks like to love God and love my neighbour as myself, when a day appears on the horizon that’s dressed up like love, but bears little resemblance to the kind of love I wrestle with in the pages of my notebook.
Wrestle, perhaps not the right word. It’s more of an examination, a rumination, and an application-seeking. Application, because, the kind of love I’m thinking about is a verb, after all. And yet, even as I write that—love is a verb—i bristle a bit. It goes beyond that.
The kind of love I’m talking about, the kind of love God’s only begotten said we’re to have for God, and for our neighbour, and for ourselves (did you catch that bit about loving our neighbours as we love ourselves.) is action, but it’s also abiding, and I know from experience that it manifests with an intimate, hard-to-describe sweetness.
Those jacked-up-in-price roses that have showed up in the stores? Not the kind of love I’m talking about. One day on the calendar that retailers got on board with somewhere along the way and decided to cash in on? Not at all the kind of love I’m talking about.
A knowing, a choosing, a sacrificing for? That’s it. A gentle caring; an acknowledgement that we are all, as Frederick Buechner says, messed up in a million ways; a pressing through; a peacemaking despite pain; a showing up, and abiding, and abiding, and abiding? That scratches the surface of it. A sense of awe and gratitude? Yeah, that’s part of it too.
Love that isn’t dependent on the actions of another person, or an emotion, or a day. Love that fills me to the point that I can do nothing but pour some of it out. Love that manifests in creation. Love that draws me back again and again even after I’ve messed things up. Especially after I’ve messed things up.
I return to my notebook and scratch out a few more thoughts about love and how I can do it better, and I take action. And I fail. And I try again. And that’s love too.