Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Or, in other words,
That’s probably too millennial for me but I still thought it was amusing. I wanted to start with a funny little something because I know I drone on all the time about love and it’s all both cheesy and kind of pointless. But the lead-in to that renowned section of scripture (not to say that it’s received short shrift) is fixed in my mind as a rationale for never tiring of saying the same things about love ad infinitum:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
I don’t feel like it’s wildly overstating the point to say that love is kind of the meaning and reason for life, the universe, and everything. Which, I’ll just say, is a little more satisfying an answer–as much of a non-answer as it is–than 42.
I heard this poem about love the other day and was deeply moved. I cannot recommend giving it a listen or read enough. It is by Kahlil Gibran and is so piercingly beautiful that I don’t even know what to tell you about it. I’ve rewritten this section a few dozen times, trying to decide which parts to highlight and what to say about them. Truly, the whole thing is remarkable so please read it. But I will offer something for you here as well because I can’t not.
Before we get to an excerpt, the thing I’ve landed on telling you about is a short line near the beginning and it encompasses, I think, the main idea of the whole work. The speaker says, “When love beckons to you, follow him,/ Though his ways are hard and steep.”
Some conversations about love are difficult to have. As Pete said, referenced in last week’s post, sometimes it’s difficult even to imagine love. Sometimes the road to finding love–within or without–is difficult. Sometimes we resist love because we know that there will be a cost. But when love beckons to us, we ought to follow. Not because it will be easy but because it will be valuable. As the poem describes, we must be threshed and freed, ground and kneaded, to become part of the feast love is preparing.
Sometimes, it’s annoying that in English there is only one word to describe how you feel about goulash, your brother, your significant other, and God. But sometimes, I think it’s actually pretty cool. Love is, as others have noted, a many-splendored thing that does not sit well in rigidly prescribed boxes. I think the trials and joys that love gives, and the multifaceted and varying ways in which we experience is, thwarts any attempt to classify it in language at all, so we may as well have only one to catch it all in a term of wonder, awe, and reverence.
This poem is really just a section of a much longer poetical work but I want to leave you with the final stanza of this part, generally referred to as On Love.
Love has no other desire but to fulfil
But if you love and must needs have
desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook
that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own under-
standing of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart
and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the
beloved in your heart and a song of praise
upon your lips.