The Pains of Love are Worth It

Marc Gellman says that his favorite wordless definition of romantic love is what he looks for when he interviews brides and grooms in advance of their wedding day.  “If they touch and laugh, I know they are truly in love.”   His favorite wordy definition of love is from D.H. Lawrence, who called love having “the courage of your tenderness”.   “My blessings of joy go out to all those courageously tender lovers who still have someone to touch and someone with whom to laugh.”

He adds a reflection, however, about the connection between love and faith.  “Faith expands our experience of love by teaching us to love God.  Loving God allows us to see the universal power of love because it teaches us that all people, not just those whom we choose to love, are made in the image of God.  Love of God thus expands our capacity to love each other.”    Jesus made the generous and joyous love for other people and for God the very core and meaning of any truly human life.   “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  Jesus said to him: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind… And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.   On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Mt 22,35-40)

“There is also the dark gift of love, which is the pain we feel when the ones we love die.  Love makes us exquisitely vulnerable to loss.   When I counsel mourners who are broken by grief, I will often ask them if they would trade their present pain for never having loved their dearly departed.  Nobody has ever said they would take that deal.  Here again, Mary Oliver has the truth of it in her poetry:  ‘To live in this world you must be able to do three things:  to love what is mortal;  to hold it against your bones knowing that your own life depends on it;  and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.’

So love is a not just a gauzy feeling of passion and desire.  Love is a truly wonderful and courageous choice, to be embraced fully while knowing that one may become eventually wounded — and knowing as well that it is indeed “worth it”.

2 thoughts on “The Pains of Love are Worth It

  1. Lord Alfred Tennyson, in grieving the sudden loss of a friend, wrote the famous lines “…it is better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all.” I like the Mary Oliver quote referred to in the blog; it contains much wisdom. Isn’t it true that to love another (and to be loved) is a beautiful experience? The bittersweet part of love is that at some point and in some form we have to let go of that love. This is true not only when a loved one dies, but also when children grow up and leave home: going to kindergarten for the time, going away to college, getting married, moving to another state or country. One of the comforting realities of our Christian faith is knowing that even as we must let go of those we love, someday we will be reunited with our loved ones (even beloved pets?) in God’s kingdom. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton put it this way: “If we must be separated here, at least let us enjoy the reunion of eternity,”

  2. I attended the Bereavement Conference this past Saturday, and what an appropriate read after such a moving conference! Thank you.

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