Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Breathe {inspiration for Wednesdays}

LOVE.  We like to throw around that word, don't we?  We love that show on TV; she loves her hair; I love fish tacos.  It is as if the word "love" is like loose pennies in our pockets - little trinkets of small value that we casually toss out with little thought.  (By the way, I speak to myself as much as to anyone here....go back through the blog and see how much I use the word love!)

However, if love-in-words is spare change to be used with our fleeting whims, I think it is good for us to remember that the content of love is found in its action.  And love-in-action is the gold, the jewels, the treasure which anchors our souls.

Love-in-action is different from love-in-words; love in words only dreams, whereas love-in-action does.  Love-in-action gives substance and flesh to a love-in-words' fantasies.

Dostoevsky wrote,
"Active love is a harsh and fearful thing compared with love in dreams.  Love in dreams thirsts for immediate action, quickly performed, and with everyone watching.  Indeed, it will go as far as the giving even of one's own life, provided it does not take too long but is soon over, as on stage, and everyone is looking on and praising.  Whereas active love is labor and perseverance...."

What sort of labor and perseverance does this love-in-action take on? 

1.  It sacrifices - It lays down its life -and more difficult still, its desires - for the sake of another.

2.  It cherishes - It cultivates with care and affection; it harbors another in the mind deeply and resolutely.  The picture I see here is a gardener cultivating the ground of the relationship so new life will rise from it, or a cove that keeps a ship safe from the elements of the wider ocean.

3.  It grows up - Love in action sees its immaturity and faults and willingly decides to leave those behind.  

4.  It sees the other person - I actually never saw the entire movie, Avatar, but one of the lines that struck me from the film was the greeting, "I see you".   It was a sense of seeing the other person for who they are and deeply honoring that.

5.  It listens -  The phrase "Audi partem alteram" has been attributed to St. Augustine.  "Hear the other side" is a characteristic of love in action.

6.  It becomes a student - Love in action knows it does not know the full story of someone; it continues to be inquisitive about another; it learns about and from that other person.

I know that much has been written about love - from philosophers to psychologists to poets - and the above list is my drop of water contribution to a vast ocean.  However, I know what I know because love-in-action has found me so many times, in so many people, but none greater than the man I have had the privilege of being married to for almost 19 years.  The above list is an account of who he is!  He has chosen love-in-action over and over again!  And while I agree with Dostoevsky, that "active love is a harsh and fearful thing", I am so thankful to have been the recipient of love-in-action for so long.

May we all choose love-in-action (and all its harsh and fearful things) over love-in-words only.  May we sacrifice, cherish, grow up, see the other person, listen, become a student, and therefore LOVE well!

Breathe, smile and go slowly.

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