Saturday, February 10, 2007

This Crazy Little Thing Called Love

My brother and his partner are getting married in several weeks. They asked me to put together a reading for the wedding. I am incredibly honoured to do this for them but at the same time I am laughing at the irony of this. I am single - perhaps the only single person (outside of nieces and nephews) at this wedding and I am so NOT qualified to do this. However, I have enjoyed pulling this piece together. It still needs a bit of shining but is pretty well ready to go. See what YOU think?

Vita Sackville-West (an English poet and novelist) said this: There is nothing more lovely in life than the union of two people whose love for one another has grown through the years, from the small acorn of passion, into a great rooted tree.

When I read this quote, I thought immediately of my grandparents. One of my favourite, most enduring memories of them is this: I was standing on the boat ramp in Ruffins Bay, looking up towards the house. My grandmother was walking in through the gate and my grandfather stepped out from his garden. He paused, waiting for her. As she joined him, she slipped her arm through his, he placed his hand on hers, and together, as one, they walked on up to the house.

I remember standing watching this, feeling deeply moved. I was seeing a living portrait of love … a love that had weathered through more than 50 years … a love that was mature and yet still fresh … a love that was vibrant … a love that delighted in just BEING with the other. In the autumn of their lives, they were still great friends … they enjoyed each other … supported one another … were there for one another … they exemplified love in action.

So what is love? And what does it look like in action? I have looked far and wide for a definition and I still cannot go past the words written by Paul nearly 2000 years ago.

Love … is patient.
Love … is kind.
It does not envy.
It does not boast.
It is not proud.
It is not rude.
It is not self seeking.
It is not easily angered.
It keeps no record of wrongs.
It does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects …
always trusts …
always hopes…
always perseveres …

There are many different types of Love. The one we generally refer to when a couple are in love, comes from the word Greek word EROS. Often we have taken that word to mean the physical attraction of love. CS Lewis tells us that Eros is “a delightful preoccupation with the Beloved – a general , unspecified preoccupation with them in their totality”. Unlike the Hollywood version of love, the primary desire of EROS is the beloved. It is no longer about ourselves and what we can get, it is about the beloved and what we can give. Lewis states that Eros obliterates the distinction between giving and receiving.

Love … is the foundation for marriage. As the foundation, it goes hand in hand with friendship. Friedrich Nietzsche (a Prussian philosopher) said, “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages”.

A comment I often hear spoken of good marriages is that they are 50/50 partnerships. The mathematics here are faulty … it assumes that 50 + 50 is one whole. Actually … the mathematics of marriage is completely illogical! The actual sum is 1 + 1 =1. 100% + 100% = 1 whole marriage. Don’t shortchange your partner by bringing 50% of yourself to this relationship … Give all you are. You are part of the whole, but you must come whole.

Ursula Leguin said, “Love doesn't sit there like a stone. It has to made like bread; remade all the time, made new”.

This brings us to the paradox of love … it is incredibly strong. In fact there is nothing stronger. The paradox is that it is also incredibly fragile. Give it the attention it needs. If you oil it with care, it will be supple, flexible and strong. Neglect it and it will become brittle and easily damaged. Do not neglect love, nurture it, tend to it, guard it.

In closing, I found these words which would be my prayer for you both as you grow together in your married life:

Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind
yourselves often of what brought you together.

Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness
that your connection deserves.

When frustration, difficulties and fear assail your relationship,
as they threaten all relationships at one time or another,
remember to focus on what is right between you,
not only the part which seems wrong.

In this way, you can ride out the storms
when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives –
remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment,
the sun is still there.

And if each of you takes responsibility for
the quality of your life together,
it will be marked by abundance and delight.

That concludes my spiel ... what do you know about love?

1 comment:

Danifesto said...

Well-done! I like all the quotes from various people. The online advice is a really nice way to end it. I loved the bit about how EROS blurs the distinction between giving and receiving.

I really don't have much to add- I agree that finding a friend you want to spend the rest of your life laughing with is key. And the greatest love of all is the love God has for us. Then after that is we find within ourselves (a la Whitney Houston).

I just thought of these last lines from the Sex in the City series finale. Appropriate I think:

Carrie: Later that day I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous.