What is love? 🎵Oh Baby, don’t hurt me, Baby don’t hurt me no more. 🎵…I just started and am already off on a tangent. Circling back to the question… What is love? A seven year old me might have supplied Mommy and cake as answers. I really liked cake, even though it made me sick most every time I ate it. There were just so many kinds, the possibilities were boundless. I figured not all of them could be lethal, so I carried on eating in zealous pursuit of my soul cake; that’s a cake with decadence rich enough to feed my soul and/or share with my soul mate, haven’t decided which.
I ate all of the cake. Marble. Lemon. Bunt. Birthday ice cream cakes and cupcakes. I ate all the cake, every kind I could find, and they all made me sick. But my love wasn’t really cake. Sure, I was an avid snacker, but maybe the draw was really the optimism behind my search for a tummy-ache-free slice of possibility. Love to me at age seven was believing that, in spite of the odds, everything would be OK.
Love was also my mother, better known as Mommy. She was who I wanted when the cake started raging in my tummy. Even though she warned me over and again to stay away from my frosted vice, and though I didn’t listen, and therefore felt deserving of an aching tummy, she still held me. She still loved me back to life, knowing that we would probably be there again, with me draped over the porcelain portal and her soothing me with her encouragement, cuddles and Jamaican backyard remedies. Love was how my mother cared for me and never grew bitter from my cake-eating folly. (I should note that my quest to love and defy my edible dilemma also occurred with pizza. And Mommy was there with every emerging slice. Whew, God bless you Mommy!
I’m almost 30 now, and though I haven’t completely ruled out cake as a possibility, it is my opinion that love is all around but does not simply happen. Having happened would imply that love can end, that love starts and stops according to an action that is not infinite. Though I do not mean that love is passive. Just the opposite. Love is active in its nature, but does not merely materialize at the base of some heartfelt gesture. Compassionate, patient, and encouraging acts occur because ever-existing love desires to be close enough to be seen and known, like when air becomes a breeze just to be felt in one’s hair. The presence of love abides in the breeze, and in compassion, and lives as an expansive mural with all of us mortal beings as artfully placed pieces of broken pottery, glass and color. When love wants to get close enough to be felt or heard, it adds a stroke of paint in the empty spaces around us, until all we see is what we recognize as beauty.
Love remains at work, breathing at this very moment while you’re reading this sentence and for inestimable sentences before and after it. Love has no birth to make cakes for nor ultimate death to fear. Love exists without time, it cannot procrastinate nor can it expire. (It’s nice to think that if love did require a cake, one with cream cheese frosting could be kept in the fridge forever without it turning into some green science fair project).
Though love is not passive, it also is not an act, rather love is a state of being. Kindness, patience, and charity cannot be done, they must be lived. Love doesn’t boast, envy, keep record of wrongs or stop. Love just is and keeps on going.
We cannot know love in its entirety, not at these heights, where it’s difficult for us in our innately flightless flesh to even see the tops of trees without a drone. That’s what I think heaven is for, to make our souls tall enough to see love’s big picture. And there, from those eternal cliffs, we’ll see God, the love that he infinitely is, and all the beauty we resemble whilst looking up at Him from beneath the trees. Heaven is where we’ll finally see all of the pieces, our broken pottery, glass and color, where we’ll finally see ourselves in the image of God, and know that that image has always been love.
Ultimately, my or anyone else’s description of love is relative, but that has no effect on love itself. We are all in, by, around and of love, constantly.