With an emphasis on chocolate and romance the weekend before us will probably be marked by some full and happy hearts, side by side with the shattered. Love hurts as well as it heals, and its absence can make painful what others find delightful. Yet we continue to find love worth the risk, and we’ve sung its praises for centuries.
Granted, we often sound terribly confusing when it comes to the subject of love. We say that we ‘love’ a good steak, that we ‘love’ the Titans (really?), and ‘love’ a favorite movie, while employing the same word to describe our affection for our children, spouses, partners, and even God. With Fifty Shades of Grey adding to the already mangled imagination of many, ‘love’ is likely to remain a wickedly over- employed and ill-defined word for years to come.
The Greeks were more exact, as Oxford Literary scholar CS Lewis pointed out in his little book The Four Loves. Lewis noted that they distinguished various kinds of ‘love’, including eros – sexual and romantic love; phileo – brotherly love; storge – family love; and agape – sacrificial love (the King James Bible famously translating this word as ‘charity’). They didn’t necessarily elevate one above the other, treasuring each in its place, including eros.
If I say to my wife, ‘Put the red dress on cuz we’re goin dancin darlin!’ we’re not going to have Handel’s Messiah or a Mozart Requiem as the soundtrack for the evening. I’m thinking Diana Krall, Katy Perry, and John Mayer fit the mood. To the shock of many, God approves. In fact, smack in the middle of the Bible is one of the most erotic pieces of ancient lit on the planet: the Song of Solomon, which, we are told, was Solomon’s greatest hit. That’s not very surprising, given its erotic imagery. Who doesn’t like a great love song?
Tolkien gave us a vision of this eternal romance in The Lord of the Rings when he wrote of Éowyn and Faramir, “And he took her in his arms and kissed her under the sunlit sky, and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls in the sight of many. And many indeed saw them and the light that shone about them as they came down from the walls and went hand in hand to the Houses of Healing.”
I don’t know if you’ll enjoy a sweet chocolate accompanied by an even sweeter kiss this weekend, but I do know there is a Lover and Love Supreme that heals the soul and lasts forever. I hope that whether you count yourself among the lonely or the loved, you will find healing in the deep and satisfying mystery that the person whose Name is Love gave all for you.