Posted by: dacalu | 7 March 2009

the word “love”

“And when the Beatles tell you
They`ve got a word “love” to sell you
They mean exactly what they say”
-Peter, Paul & Mary

It seems I’m talking about “love” alot this week. It’s come up several times, most notably yesterday when I was talking with a European man about how much we use the word in the US. He thinks it’s become devalued. It got me to thinking. There’s someone I know who really needs to hear that he’s loved, and I thought about saying “I love you.” Scary how fraught that little phrase is. I didn’t mean it in a romantic way–but that brings it’s own set of baggage into the equation. How do you tell someone that they are loved? If love truly is the Christian thing to do, the Christian way of relating, and if love is one of the things Christians are meant to share, how do we do it?

I realized that love was one of those things that you can’t really “tell” people about. If I say “I love you,” and your notion of love means an abusive partner or spouse, then I haven’t really communicated. You’ll have an entirely different pictures in your head. Each of us carries around the history of hundreds of relationships. Some of them were loving, some were not. Some were labelled love, some were not. How do we sort it all out?

The Taoist classic book, the Tao Te Ching, begins with these words: “The Tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao. The way that can be named is not the true way.” I think Christians can learn something from this. Love (and grace, redemption, righteousness…) means different things to different people. If we want to share the good news of true love, true Christian love, we won’t be able to do it with our voices only. Francis of Assisi once said:

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

The good news has to do with seeing souls, with seeing people as they really are, with being open to them, and genuinely giving ourselves for and to them. That kind of love cannot be communicated in words (though I’m trying), it must be communicated in living. That’s why the “come and see” philosophy is so important. I’d challenge you, if you’re reading this, to try it out this week. Find someone you don’t know or don’t know well, and try to see them as they really are. Try to see their soul. I know you’ll find it rewarding.

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