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.
1 Corinithians 13: 4-7
I remember my dad taking me to see "Romeo and Juliet" when I was in junior high. Ok, so I'm dating myself, but it was the Franco Zeffereli version, with Olivia Hussey in the role of Juliet, and Leonard Whiting in the role of Romeo. I was mesmerized. Such extravagence - color and texture in the costumes and set designs. Unlike a play, the movie allowed the actors freedom from the stage; everything seemed so real. Even the language. Especially the language, because it, as much as the visual feast, placed the story into Elizabethan, Verona. Made it believable. And then there were the actors. Young. Innocent. In love. Yes, I was young, myself, but that's the whole reason the movie resonated so deeply - the music, the poetry, the passionate excess. Shakespeare was writing about me - I wasn't much younger than Juliet, and I was in the throes of infatuation.
Since then, I've fallen in and out of infatuation more times than I can tell. I remember my mother coming to me about a boyfriend my freshman year of high school. She told me that she understood that I thought I was in love with this boy. She told me that I was feeling right into the limits of my ability considering my age and maturity. She told me it wasn't love - that I probably wasn't really capable of love....yet. But she held out the promise that I would, one day, experience love...
Much later, I put a name to what I was feeling - Eros. Simply put, it's that physical, mushy, infatuation love - untested by trial. Unless it's forged to something deeper, it simply doesn't last. But I have experienced a different love.
I love my husband to the very depth of my being. He is my best friend. We are bound together - in common experience, in common goals, in common beliefs. Sometimes we read each other's minds. It's not always easy, this sharing a life with someone else in such an intimate way. Life stresses step in and muddy up the picture. Apologies, forgiveness, mutual respect, ebb and flow. I love the way he is able to untangle complicated situations - where I see oceans of gray, he sees black and white. I love his discipline, his integrity, his grasp of abstract concepts. I love the way he sees the humor around him. I love his activity, his curiosity, his optimism. I love the way he loves me - and the way he loves my daughter. Plain and simple - I love my man.
I have seen lasting love. My friend recently lost her husband after a long struggle with Alzheimer's. Through the trials of the disease, the days when he didn't remember their shared moments, the days when he lost his mental and physical abilities, she was steadfast. She was faithful. Because she loved him. And she still loves him, through the missing and the alone, she holds his memory in her heart. Beyond life. Unconditional. Agape.
Like the love I have for my daughter. Fierce. Protective. Like the love my mother has for me - always - back when she tried to teach me about love, and now.
Like the love God has for us. No matter what - no matter our wrong choices, no matter our failings, no matter the paths we've taken. Like the prodigal son. Unconditional.
Love. Recently, a lot of my friends have seen the mini-series "The Bible." In the final episode, the apostle Paul is shown in a scene where he has to convince fellow Christians that he has, indeed, been changed. That he isn't the coat-carrying, stone-throwing anti-Christian they have seen or heard of. It was probably the best interpretation of 1 Corinthians:13 that I have ever heard. Two thousand years ago, God sent his only Son, to die for our sins. To reconcile us to Him. Beyond life. What love is that!
Thank you, God, for my husband, for family, for friends, and for Love that came down.