Wednesday, 5 January 2011

A harsh and dreadful thing...

I had a text from a very dear friend the other day that said "love is a pathetic emotion". As I read those words I felt as though somebody had stabbed me right through the heart, and my heart was now weeping blood.

Sadly, though, far too many people think of love in precisely this same one-dimensional way. Oh sure, when people are 'in love' they get all gooey eyed and seem to go just a little bit weird, but that is not the entirety of what love truly is. It is simply one aspect of it. It is said that love is blind, and more often than not the person or persons uttering that statement are implying that there is something wrong with that blindness to faults.

What is it that makes us say things like my friend did and reduce love to a 'pathetic' emotion? Love is quite simply the single most important thing in the universe. It is also a dreadful thing. Perhaps my favourite quote of all time is this, from Dorothy Day,
"Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, but it is the only answer."
What do you think when you read that statement? Do you think she is mad to say that Love is harsh or dreadful? Was she having an off-day? Was she of the opinion that love is a pathetic emotion? No! Not at all. She says "it is the only answer". And the answer applies to the question of how do we respond to every single struggle, crisis, travesty, evil, moment of joy, smile, frown, "marginalized" person, king, president, premier, child, 'celebrity', murderer, rapist, paedophile, survivor of rape or abuse or domestic violence, falling out with a loved one, racist, homophobe, 'deviant', genocide, holocaust, colonial sin, and on and on and on?... Every single one MUST be answered WITH and IN Love. One cannot go through life without being touched by love.

The marvellous thing about love is that it is freely available for good works. The terrible thing about is that it  is freely available for exploitation. One cannot go through life without being touched by love, that is for sure, but what spin the love has on it is a whole other thing. Survivors of abuse often say that their abusers would tell them that this behaviour was just their way of expressing their love, or because they did not know how to express their love (not quite sure how a fist in the face or the rape of an eight year old expresses love, but you know, let's not split hairs at this stage and remember we are compelled to love the sinner). Love is something that we are all struggling to deal with.

Love lays us all bare when we choose to accept it in its fullness. This is what makes it dreadful. Perfect Love drives out all fear, and enables us to walk on in the light of life and freedom from ALL of the shackles we bind ourselves with, and - quite honestly - we do not want that. Not yet. Not now. The reason is simple: we do not understand how to live with that much freedom. It is all far too overwhelming for us to begin to contemplate. Sure, we dream of being free from the external things we perceive to be restricting our ability to do just whatever we darn well like. But real freedom is so much more than that. Real freedom is actually about us stepping outside of our own selves. Moving out into a frameless world, where there are no limits beyond what is pure and what is not pure. Out there are the real Fields of Joy. Out there we begin to fully experience what life is really about and it strips us of EVERYTHING that we have come to know as real and we see what Love really is about and the full gravity of its essence overwhelms and undoes us.

Real Love is no respecter of persons. It is self-sustaining and has no need of limitations and impunity. Love is, fundamentally, .

Once we realize that there is an awesome love and freedom 'out there' we develop acute agoraphobia and dive back into the familiar and comforting folds of our own raggedy bodies and turn tail and run, occasionally creeping back to the edge of freedom just to remind ourselves that we are better off thinking that we are free, rather than actually being free...

We carry on thinking of love as an emotion. We reduce it to nothing more than chemical interactions between hormones and synaptic exchanges (thought processes). We dismiss love as an emotion because chemicals are fickle and prone to instability in the human condition and we go back to mistrusting love in our daily interactions. We might feel good about love when we hear that God loves us or that Jesus loves us, or when your husband or child tells you that they love you but there is a vast difference between hearing those words and experiencing them.  The ways that we know we are truly loved are more by right and healthy action than they are by head knowledge. Heart knowledge comes when we open up to the possibility that actually this love is real and not confined to the realm of emotion, or the chemical fizzings of lust.

True Love takes us deeper and deeper into ourselves and challenges our perceptions, forces us to confront and overcome our fears, convicts us of our sins, prompts repentance, teaches us to seek forgiveness and to forgive the wrongs of others... It also eventually teaches us to be blind. Not blind in a 'looking the other way' fashion that creates a breeding ground for lax morality, but blind in such a way that the heart no longer sees the things that prejudice us. We begin to see the heart and pain and faults of others, but look to find new ways to bring the person to wholeness, not to block them from our Love writing them of as wastrels.

Love is a gift to us. We must pass it on. Selfishness with our Love creates serious problems in our lives and renders us useless to God and man.

Love is harsh, then, because it makes us confront our very selves; it is dreadful, therefore, because it shows us the deep pains and fears of the people around us and compels us to answer; the answer is to allow Love to flow through us unimpeded and unfiltered. Pure, Perfect and True Love courses through us dragging all the dross with it and once we are drawing on that deep well, lives will change, and that diabolical notion of love as a pathetic emotion will be laid to rest.

In Love,
The Loris