Love

Within the dark chaos of a troubled world I will

        seek and find some Beauteous Thing.

From eyes grown dim with weeping will shine a Light

        to guide me, and in Sorrow’s Hour

        I shall behold a great High Courage.

I shall find the wonder of an infinite Patience,

        and a quiet Faith in coming Joy and Peace.

And Love will I seek in the midst of Discord, and

        find swift eager hands out-stretched in welcome.

I will seek Beauty all my days, and in my quest

        I shall not be dismayed.

        I SHALL FIND GOD

— Aumonier


That best portion of a good man’s life, —

His little, nameless, unremembered acts

Of kindness and of love.

— Wordsworth


No man is useless who has a friend, and if we are loved we are indispensable. — Robert Louis Stevenson

There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved. — George Sand

To love another person is to see the face of God. — ‘Les Miserables’

Unless you love someone, nothing else makes any sense. — E E Cummings

The only abnormality is the incapacity to love. — Anais Nin

Love is but the discovery of ourselves in others, and the delight in the recognition. — Alexander Smith

The Natural Balance

The structure of the universe is maintained by tensions that pull together and pull apart its component parts. As time progresses new life is born, old things are destroyed, new stars are created and old suns explode into nothingness. So it would seem that it the universe is a ruthless place, a place that’s ignorant of love or hate. Yet the universe remains in balance, the things that destroy also create the chance of new worlds and new life. So it may last forever, always renewing itself, changing over all eternity. Our own planet, this blue sphere spinning silently in space, is an example of how the old is always replaced by the new. Viewed from a distance it appears as a single organism, but seen at closer quarters we realise that it consists of countless entities, both seen and unseen, all competing for survival, but all eventually replaced by new creations.

In our pristine world, prior to the arrival of man, all life stood and fell as nature dictated. The balance that was maintained could be defined as ‘good’. And when the lion took the antelope as food it didn't feel any hate for its victim; this was merely the way of things. In fact, the lion would probably feel a kind of love for the antelope because it gave him nourishment and maintained his life. But human beings, because of their intelligence or composition, are different to other creatures. They have the ability, the free will, to do things that fly in the face of nature. Whether these things are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ may be considered a matter of opinion, although ‘bad’ actions probably involve activities that clash with nature, upsetting the balance that maintains the universe in its state of constant development.

So what is ‘love’? It would seem that love is the expression of something ‘good’, something that is in harmony with the universe, in tune with nature. Similarly, ‘hate’ is associated with ‘bad’ acts, which if perpetuated, might damage the future of our world and beyond.

Terms of Separation

Who love too much, hate in the like extreme,

And both the golden mean alike condemn.

— Alexander Pope


And ever has it been known that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.

Fortune and love befriend the bold. — Ovid

In love there is but little rest. — Chaucer


In human society it’s love that brings us closer together and it’s hate that drives us apart. In order to survive in the face of nature the tribe must keep together, so some kind of love between its members is essential. But if the group becomes too large it will be driven into a natural separation, invariably fuelled by hatred. Human beings, with their own will to decide, must work out the balance of love and hate for themselves. There are no fixed rules in life. Nothing explains this better than these words from the Old Testament:-

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die;

A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal;

A time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;

A time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones;

A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to gain, and a time to lose;

A time to keep, and a time to throw away;

A time to tear, and a time to sew;

A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate;

A time of war, and a time of peace.

— Ecclesiastes 3:1-9

And so humanity pays the price for the knowledge of good and evil, of love and hate. Not the simple life of an animal, but one of joy and pain, light and darkness. And so we must accept what we are and then take the consequences of our own actions.

Aspects of Love

The little girl expects no declaration of tenderness from her doll. She loves it — and that’s all. It is thus that we should love. — De Gourmont

Love conquers all things; let us too surrender to love. — Virgil

We are not loved by our friends for what we are; rather, we are loved in spite of what we are. — Victor Hugo


Love, when seen outside of nature, is an abstract concept. In our modern world the word has a multitude of meanings. St Paul gives this definition, which is a good starting point:-

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profit me nothing.

Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes for all things, endures all things.

Love never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Paul doesn’t entirely define what love is, but explains that’s it’s not about your own interests but the interests of the person you love. M. Scott Peck, psychiatrist and author defines it as:-

The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.

Romantic Love

The life that I have

Is all that I have

And the life that I have

Is yours

The love that I have

Of the life that I have

Is yours and yours and yours

— Leo Marks, writing to Violette Szabo


Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments: love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds.

— William Shakespeare


That is the true season of love, when we believe that we alone can love, that no one could have loved so before us, and that no one will love in the same way as us. — Goethe

Better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all. — St. Augustine

To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead. — Bertrand Russell

But love is blind, and lovers cannot see. — William Shakespeare

Religion has done love a great service by making it a sin. — Anatole France

Who ever loved that loved not at first sight? — Marlowe

“Darling,” she whispered, “will you still love me after we are married?” He considered this for a moment and then replied, “I think so. I’ve always been especially fond of married women.”


Although love can be considered to be physical, emotional, mental, social, or spiritual, this is really a mere playing with words. In reality, the life-changing experience of ‘romantic’ love is an obsessive and heady combination of all these things and more. Which of this mix of powerful elements form the core of of a particular love is down to those concerned. St Paul’s definition applies equally to this kind of love, which collapses if either or both participants cease to truly understand and care for their opposite number. Anyone who becomes self-centred, controlling, too demanding sexually or inconsiderate cannot be thought of as loving. But if those involved are willing to listen, understand and respond to the other person’s needs then love can thrive.

All forms of love are about giving, giving without measure, and not taking. And we should rejoice in the flaws that make other people different, for every one of them is a unique human being that deserves our love and understanding. It’s not our place to say what is the right or wrong direction for their lives. In the end, love is about the other person’s happiness, not your own. And if the other person no longer loves you, you must let them go and put up with the suffering you have to endure. After all, despite what we may think, we’re not in control of our own lives, let alone those of others

 

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©Ray White 2006.