dimanche, janvier 08, 2012

The secret language of love

I've heard that it's possible to stumble into somebody who speaks a language that holds the (a?) key to your heart.

It's not something that I've ever experienced.

No, I cannot be that categorical.

First of all, let me say that I don't buy into the Western definitions of love. Eros, agape, filial love --note that they were all definitions constructed by guys.

And we all know that men are "better" at compartmentalizing than women are. I don't believe that love fits into little boxes.

Today I saw a Facebook photo of my son, with another boy sitting on his lap. Both of them have broad grins on their faces, arms slung casually around each other's shoulder.

My son and this boy, who are both straight, are really, really good friends. They'd probably do anything for one another. They'd be mortified if someone said they loved each other.

But I wonder if what they feel isn't at least akin to it.

I have a female friend of many years with whom I have shared many of the big experiences of our lives: marriages, births (in my case) a marriage crack up.

I'm sure that I love her -- although it's not likely that I need to say it.

My marriage, though no fault of my husband, or perhaps through both our faults, was no school for love. I have learned much, however, from our children.

My love for them is like a stream that flows perpetually underground, coming up now and then to exult in the sun, before sinking increasingly into the background as they age.

And from a man I learned something of tenderness, and forgiveness, and compassion.

Was this akin to love? Could we have done better?

I have no idea. But I do not think I was deluded.

What about what happens when one doesn't expect to feel affection -- and it steals upon one in unguarded moments?

What IS that habit of easy discourse, the sense that one already knows the words yet to be spoken, the rueful humor that speaks of a deeper, spiritual comradeship?

What of a knowing circumscribed by its very context, and larger than its original intent?

Perhaps it's better to speak of loving, an action verb, than of love as a theory. We like to make love sacred, when it is but a chain ordinary choices.

Or perhaps, sometimes, not so ordinary.

What is the loving action here? What does it mean to speak of friendship when the more that could be is outside the boundaries of time and space?

For to be loving is to be a friend -- and to put the other person's welfare at least on par with one's own.

Do loving actions always entail sacrifice of one sort or another? Does faithfulness mean a rule of discipline for a rebel heart?

All of these questions -- little wonder, then, I am alone.

And in the night, I shout silently -- I still know how, even if I define it differently than you. I still know how to act lovingly -- forgive me if I sometimes get the act wrong. I'd rather ache, you see, than refuse to pick up and look hard at this thorny gift, as my fingers bleed.

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