I didn’t get married until I was 45 years old, so I don’t pretend to be a self-help guru or an expert of any kind on romantic love. I made plenty of mistakes along the way to finding my beloved husband, but I also spent time reflecting on, and hopefully learning about, love in its various forms.
After all, we each experience many types of love in our lives. Our parents or guardians love us from birth; our friends love us as we grow and mature; and we may eventually find romantic love, too. Some of you may have pets, like the dog I had once, who love unconditionally.
God loves us before we come into this world, His love sustains us on our journey here, and He will continue to love us after we join Him in heaven. So, if you think about it, God’s love is the only love we can always count on. Unlike mere mortals, God never gets tired, or irritable, or unstable. No emergency is too big to drag God’s attention away from us. No mistake we make is too egregious for God to forgive. No matter how long we have stayed out of touch, we will always be warmly and graciously welcomed back. He’s never jealous or competitive or mean spirited. God is love.
God rejoices when we rejoice.
The Episcopal nuns at All Saints Convent in Maryland produce meditation cards and greeting cards to help support themselves. When I go on retreat there, I take my time picking out inspirational cards to help refresh and instruct me when I return home.
Another card reads:
This is how the 12 century Cistercian Isaac de Letoile explained this mystery [Christmas joy] to his monks on their forlorn island monastery lost amid the waves of the Atlantic –
Speaking of the growth of Christ in our souls he says:
‘Blessed is the soul that never forgets nor lets go of the Child Jesus. More blessed still that soul which ever meditates on the Grown Jesus. But most blessed is that soul that ever contemplates the Immense Jesus. Scripture says –the son of Abraham grew and became very great. Isaac means laughter. And so my brothers, let the son of God, grow in thee, for He is formed in thee. Let Him become immense in thee and from thee, and may He become to thee a great smile and exultation and perfect joy which no man can take from thee.’
God’s love also enables us to love those around us. Scripture says you could tell the Christians by the way they loved one another. In a class at church, I learned that it’s impossible to hate someone and to love God at the same time. (Try it, if you don’t believe me, as I was invited to do during the class.) As John’s gospel explains, “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
As mere mortals, we need God’s help and His presence in our homes to help keep us from rubbing up too roughly against one another. The wise theologian Henry Nouwen says, “Let us claim the truth that we are loved and open our hearts to receive God’s overflowing love poured out for us. And living each day, let us share that love in all our wonderful and difficult relationships, responsibilities, and passages.”
As a gift, God gave us the beauty of creation to delight our senses. The Torah says we will be held accountable for each allowable pleasure we did not enjoy. So, go ahead; stop and smell the roses, literally and figuratively. Revel in your senses. Even if you are currently single, bring some romance into your life. If God has blessed you with someone to love, share some pleasures. Spray lavender mist on your pillows. Buy a few decadently flavored chocolates or pastries from a gorgeous display case in a fancy shop. Put flannel or softly washed cotton sheets on your bed. Listen to Michael Buble, Al Green, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Krall or Stevie Wonder sing love songs. Put one stem of lilies in a vase on your dresser, so you wake up to beauty each day. I took all these photos around our yard after a winter snow storm to try to capture in some small way, its geometry, its delicately frosty beauty, its mystical quiet.
Wishing you every blessing,