"...Love is wide, love is long
Love is deep and love is strong
Love is why I love this song
And I hope you love it too
There's no request too big or small --
We give ourselves, we give our all,
Love isn't someplace that we fall,
It's something that we do..."
I've been considering some of the love-lessons I've been blessed by over the last few years, and the paradigm shift takes my breath away.
Clint Black's "Something that We Do" speaks very specifically to marital love, but I believe...with my whole being...that these same principles apply across the board.
Whether we are loving our children, our friends, our global neighbors, or...as Jesus expected...our enemies, this love that moves beyond mere human feeling, is universal. To be divine, this kind of love must be lived. It is a way of behaving, a deep humanity...that, when lived without question...reveals our divinity.
Yes, the love we "fall into" is often exciting, comforting, joyous, breath-taking, and overwhelmingly wonderful...but if that love isn't, also, consistent, universal, impartial, unconditional, and sustainable, it falls short of the love that redeems and saves. Mary Baker Eddy has this to say about the strong demands of Love, and on loving:
"Love is not something put upon a shelf, to be taken down on rare occasions with sugar-tongs and laid on a rose-leaf. I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results. Unless these appear, I cast aside the word as a sham and counterfeit, having no ring of the true metal.
Love cannot be a mere abstraction, or goodness without activity and power. As a human quality, the glorious significance of affection is more than words: it is the tender, unselfish deed done in secret; the silent, ceaseless prayer; the self-forgetful heart that overflows; the veiled form stealing on an errand of mercy, out of a side door; the little feet tripping along the sidewalk; the gentle hand opening the door that turns toward want and woe, sickness and sorrow, and thus lighting the dark places of earth."
It is this kind of love that transforms the lover...and the loved. And it is this kind of love...the act of loving well beyond the conditions that our own hearts place upon our loving...flying in the face of the"thus far, and no farther" kind of love...that change us into the image of Him that "loveth us first".
This loving that has its source in Him, in God, often makes no sense to human reason. It can be found in the heart of a birthmother who makes an adoption plan for a child (or children) she would lay her life down for. It can be found in the catacombs of a divorce court when parents put aside hurt and anger because, at the very root...much deeper than the froth and foam of emotions...lies a shared love for children they adore, and the marriage that gave those children their earliest moments of tenderness and devotion. It can be found in homeless shelters where strangers serve, and on battlefields, when enemies embrace.
William Blake wrote:
"Love seeketh not itself to please,
nor for itself hath any care,
but for another gives its ease,
and builds a heaven in hell's despair."
In our sorrow and despair, in our tears and through our terror...right there, right in the darkness of the "valley of the shadow of death" - the place where all that threatens our hopes and our dreams darkens our path...comes the opportunity to love without condition...without reason. This unconditional love is the love that passeth all understanding. It goes beyond the boundaries of romantic love, beyond the breadth of maternal love, beyond everything that, we think, we need, or want...it is the Love that is Infinite in scope..and echoes eternally. It isn't someone we find, somewhere we fall, sometime when we were happy. It's something that we do.
Kate Robertson, CS
[photo credit: Nathaniel Wilder 2010]