“Love” is one of the most confused and misused words in the English language.
We use the same word when we like something a lot (i.e. I love this cheesecake! I love that song!), when we admire someone we hardly know (i.e. I love that actor!), when we suffer the psychosis of infatuation (i.e. I’ve fallen in love!), when we’re physically attracted to another, and when we care deeply (i.e. I love you, dear. I love you, Dad.).
When two people say, “I love you,” they share an intimacy but may be feeling quite different feelings. One may feel some chemistry and physical attraction; the other, a deeper emotional connection or even a profound spiritual experience.
So it surprises those same people when love “dies.” If that “love” is built solely on physical attraction or a superficial acquaintance with the complete person, it will certainly dissipate and dissolve over time.
When we’ve made both an emotional and spiritual connection with others wherein from our perspective, their well-being is as important as our own, we experience a love that will endure. It is like a transcendent insight that once realized is never lost.
When we love one another at this deeper level, we and our relationships are transformed. Life is transformed and rendered more meaningful.
As for the lesser forms of love, we tend to reserve and hoard them as a precious commodity. We give our love only to the deserving – or at least those we judge to be good, attractive or irresistible. We save our love for a precious few.
Ironically, the greater love – deep spiritual love – selfless, unconditional love – agape is perhaps the greatest power in human relationships and a renewable resource. Though it may seem a rare type of love, it is meant to be given away and in that selfless giving, it enriches us all the more.
As kids in Sunday school, we sang “Magic Penny” – a simple children’s song about a profound truth. Some of the verses have remained with me:
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.
It’s just like a magic penny,
Hold it tight and you won’t have any.
Lend it, spend it, and you’ll have so many
They’ll roll all over the floor.
But it has been in the living of life and the giving and receiving of love, that I’ve experienced it’s deeper meaning.
On the wall of that old church was a poster that said, “God is Love.” That too has taken on a deeper significance in my adult life.
This form of love is our connection to the divine. We cannot see God until we look at one another with love. We see the divine in each other. We transcend our separateness. We experience the divine when we love this way.
This greater love we need not restrict to just a few people in our lifetime but rather given freely to many.