February 14, 2010

What is Love?

image vanessapikerussell.com
On this day that we set aside to celebrate love, I wonder if we really think about love and what it means, or do we all get caught up in gifting and the politics therein...

We feel, see, and show love in so many ways, yet the one day we set aside to celebrate this omnipresent, universal concept, we transform it into a kind of homage to diamonds, roses, and chocolate.  Although we all appreciate those things, and they are beautiful signifiers of romantic love, is romantic love the truest and ultimate expression of love? The love between lovers is powerful and breathtaking, yet it is only Act One of a Five-Act play.  Unfortunately, many of us never stick around for the rest of the show.  If not ephemeral in the first place, the burn of romance endures.  What drives the burn is something which surpasses a lover's kiss.

Love is that aching, beautiful, extraordinary effusiveness that God/Allah/Jehovah/Yahweh (and the other hundred names we have) has given to us all.  Although I'm not a huge fan of C.S. Lewis, I found a morsel of truth in his work Four Loves.  He defined love in four categories:  Affection, Friendship, Eros, and Charity.  Many writers and philosophers have theorized similarly for centuries.  However, we tend to celebrate only one category on Valentine's Day.  Yet, most of humanity experiences charity and friendship all the time.  We experience it when we weep for those who have endured great sorrow, those who have felt the wrath of oppression, and the depths of despair.  We experience love when we hold a newborn child in our arms or hold the hand of a friend in need.  I think we are all capable of showing higher orders of love, but of course, we don't always do so.  We all fall victim to cynicism and downright meanness.  The more we allow the meanness to reign, the more it will consume us.  In these terrible times, we need to find reasons to laugh more and find the flowers among the weeds.

In the immortal words of Lenny Kravitz, we need to "Let Love Rule," because love is God and God is love.