Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Truest Kind of Love

Truly loving, as God calls us to do, can wound deeply. The love of Christ is reflected in His wounds. I must be willing to receive wounds if I love. The giving of myself to others brings vulnerability; those I love may be unkind, inconsiderate, demanding or misunderstanding of my motives. Yet I must love, if for no other reason because it is what God asks me to do. Somehow this risk, this willingness to love, opens up a broad vista in my soul that would otherwise be dark. It is a great mystery that to achieve true beauty in Christ, I must be honed and shaped and stretched and burned and, finally, healed by pain.

I love the book, "The Velveteen Rabbit," because of this lesson. Each of us may be asked, at some point in our lives, to love so much it hurts. Will I sacrifice for love? Will I walk through the fire? Will I say yes to the kind of love God gives? It may seem much easier to say no. But in the end, if we love, we experience true freedom, as the rabbit did when he came out of the fire and was finally real. And then we find that love became the easiest choice.

Though this kind of love is expressed in marriage, it is more than that. It is something broader and deeper: a love for humanity, a love for God that runs so deep that we are willing to love all that He brings our way.

If I am misunderstood; still I must love. If I am rejected; still I must love. If I am in pain; still I must love. I see that Jesus was willing to "become nothing" and to be "obedient to death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2). This gives me comfort. How can I do less? He is my example.

Everything in me wishes to explain and defend, to fight and protect; I cannot. This path of the saints is not easy. To believe when I cannot see, to hope when I don't see the end, to trust when I don't know the outcome - this is tough!

I pray God will give me the greatest strength of all, the strength to love without being loved in return.

In honor of this great thing, love, I now offer some thoughts from those far greater than me:
Living Flame of Love
St. John of the Cross
1. O living flame of love
that tenderly wounds my soul
in its deepest center! Since
now you are not oppressive,
now consummate! if it be your will:
tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!
2. O sweet cautery,
O delightful wound!
O gentle hand! O delicate touch
that tastes of eternal life
and pays every debt!
In killing you changed death to life.
3. O lamps of fire!
in whose splendors
the deep caverns of feeling,
once obscure and blind,
now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely,
both warmth and light to their Beloved.
4. How gently and lovingly
you wake in my heart,
where in secret you dwell alone;
and in your sweet breathing,
filled with good and glory,
how tenderly you swell my heart with love.

If you judge people, you have not time to love them. Mother Teresa

In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone. St. John of the Cross

Let us abandon everything within the scope of our thoughts and determine to love what is beyond comprehension. We touch and hold God by Love alone. The Cloud of Unknowing

I know of one means only by which to attain to perfection: LOVE. Let us love, since our heart is made for nothing else. Sometimes I seek another word to express Love, but in this land of exile the word which begins and ends (St. Augustine) is quite incapable of rendering the vibrations of the soul; we must then adhere to this simple and only word: TO LOVE. St Therese of Lisieux

Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that loves not, knows not God, for God is love.
St. John, the Apostle (I John 4:7 & 8)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An absolutely exquisite post, thank you so much for gathering so many wonderful expressions of faith and love together, it is just what I needed to read today.