The week between Christmas and New Years always seems to bring out the retrospective pieces in newspapers and television, like who died this past year or what major events occurred to shape the days passed. These are all well and good, for they show us where we have been and give us pause to reflect upon the worth of our time spent. But as I head into my 58th year, dragging the “middle-aged” label behind me, with the “senior” signpost coming into not-so-distant-view, I’ve been thinking a lot about the future.
And with those thoughts, come thoughts of love.
Love is a verb, and a noun. It is action, and substance. It can be created and nurtured, and lost. You can’t see it, but you can feel it. Like the time you were running into the store, scanning the parking lot for the wayward car, and your outstretched hand is grasped by that eager little mitt. Or the excitement when she walks in the door, and smiles.
Love has been the focus of many a story and song. The masters have given it some great treatment. Guys like Shakespeare and O. Henry. And fellow travelers like St. Paul. Old Billy S. gave us timeless tales of young love. Juliet and her main squeeze Romeo had it bad. And in “The Gift of the Magi”, when O. Henry has his newlyweds sell their most prized possessions in the whole world to turn into a gift for the other….well, call me a wimp, if you will. But I can never read it without that old lump coming up in the throat, as Jim tells Dell he has “sold the watch to get the money to buy the combs.”
Speaking of lumps, another one always shows up when Harry Bailey comes, in covered with snow, and raises the cup of cheer “in a toast to my big brother, George… The richest man in town.”
Brotherly love, romantic love, love of country. Love of a son for his parents.
That one has been forefront of late, with my moms latest run with illness and hospitalization. I guess it’s true that you don’t know how much you love someone until you think you may lose them. The anxiety and pain is so clear and present.
Love has been misused and abused, however
“Gee, hon, I just love that new kitchen set.” Or “try the calamari, you’ll just love it.” (Yeah, till you find out it’s SQUID!). Or “love means never having to say you’re sorry.” How lame was that one?
We know a Franciscan priest who calls Jesus on the crucifix his “Boss on the Cross”, and says “now, that’s what I call love” when he holds it up for a blessing.
The Beatles said “all you need is love. But they also said “you know, it don’t come easy.”
And both are true, as anyone who has been well-wed for a couple of decades can attest to.
Maybe the best words on the subject are those that you hear at weddings. What better time to put good old St. Paul’s lines to work.
As man and woman join to one, we hear “love is patient, love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs; it is not snobbish.” He continues that “there is no limit to loves forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure. Love never fails.”
For those of you who have more than one child, didn’t you wonder how you could love a second as much as your first? That love, it just multiplies, doesn’t it?
Paul finishes with a fine flourish.
“There are in the end three things that last. Faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.”
Peace….and love…to you all in the New Year.
(as printed in the December 28 Suburban Journal, St. Louis, MO)