Friday, December 21, 2007

On Love

Quite recently I've had some new thoughts on love, on what it is and means and can be. These aren't thoughts that are in any way revolutionary in the world; rather they are the kind of insights one has when one is close to understanding something fundamental—shadows of the ah-ha moment, echoes of Newton under the apple tree or Archimedes in his bathtub.

No, I'm not going to tell you what these insights are—they aren't complete anyway (and besides, I wouldn't want to jinx any further discoveries away). I merely want to acknowledge that there are things I don't know and don't understand. That's big for me (those of you who know me know this to be true). There are things I thought I had pretty much figured out that I only saw the surface of, and now, in recent moments, I have glimpsed the possibility of something more, something deeper. I don't know why they have come now; I'm not in love with anyone and don't really expect to be (can you ever expect or not expect that?). And yet, in quiet moments, in my own thoughts, and in the words of others present and recorded, I have had a flash of inspiration here and an intimation of something there.

Odd that it comes unbidden and at times when I don't even feel my best or most worthy. Odd what God proposes to build out of the rubble I haven't even the humility to offer. Odd how time is looped and double-stitched.

Allow me an unrelated thread leading to a pertinent question.

I read The Lord of the Rings just a year or so ago and when I finished the last book (which is far more grand and grandiose than any movie can portray), I said to myself (and others) that when Jesus Christ comes again with justice in his right hand, in his left will be his own dog-eared copy of The Return of the King, just so he can make sure he is properly outdoing it. It's that awesome.

Which begs the question: What of the things we imagine and put in books or movies? Can we imagine beyond the capacity of reality to contain? Or in other words, can we outstrip God by imagining things greater and farther than he is prepared or capable of producing? Won't God, being God, always be one or more steps ahead of us, ensuring that we be surprised at all the pivotal moments and always having yet another surprise in store?1

So what of love, I ask. What of those Jane Austen books and those BBC movies in which love becomes something so transcendent we must either adopt a safely cynical view or be branded a hopeless romantic?2 What of their monologues in which (alright: romantic) love is redefined in terms so forceful as to make hearts burst and in which love literally becomes as real and as strong as gravity?3 Is it merely foolishness in a book, or is this something real?

1Or, if God's not your cup of tea, will mankind ever stop being amazed by the universe of things and ideas? Or won't humanity, having discovered all there is to discover in the universe (if this is even possible), obtain the power to make imagination real and thus match book with reality at every turn?
2The word "romantic" in this phrase clearly does not refer to candlelit dinners, walks by moonlight, and general lovey-dovey-ness.
3And yet if it were truly like gravity we wouldn't all be so interested in losing weight.


agirlwho said...

It's no secret that I have been thinking a lot about love in the past year. I have come to terms with some fairly bitter feelings concerning it and now I realize that there is so much that I don't understand yet, but at least I am willing to make myself vulnerable to the experiences that will help me know exactly what it is to love fully someday. I think that is one of the biggest things, being willing to be vulnerable. It is faith, just like you said, to realize that the Lord is always a few steps ahead of us, and that translates into relationships. You can never know where one will go. You can never ensure that heartbreak won't happen, but you can be willing to find out. Hope is so important. It is okay to hope and find out that things aren't the way you wanted them to be, sometimes they are better, sometimes worse. I guess I have too much to say about this. Anyhow, I am glad you've been having realizations. Good luck with them.

Jennifer said...

Comment 1:
I believe our imagination is bigger than what we are currently capable of transmitting in language of any kind. I think it comes of our spiritual selves trapped in our mortal bodies. Creativity is divine. We can't outstrip God (or the universe), so onward and upward! That leads to
Comment 2:
On love. I think those words in romantic portrayals are so fiercely passionate precisely because the author is trying to convey this huge spiritual feeling that really words are inept to describe. Our mortal struggling to express something spiritual in nature. Which love is. But it is NOT what Hollywood and literature have made of it. That is too shallow. The concept of one soul mate is ridiculous. I have my soulmate. It is because we chose each other to be one another's soulmates, committed to it, and work and choose everything based on being together forever. People often say that, if their love doesn't last, they must have made a mistake and not really found their soulmate. Rubbish! I say again, Rubbish! ALL relationships will go that way without all the work, sacrifice, kindness, consideration, dedication, and forgiveness that we can give, and then all the help that the Lord can give. True love really does transcend books and movies and all that talk. Don't become cynical - become a student of it. Learn the actions and skills of love. They are in the scriptures. And in your family :)

Elisa said...

ditto to everything jennifer wrote...