I have been thinking a lot about love lately. Some friends and I did a marathon viewing of Thorn Birds recently and other friends and I have been discussing what love looks like–or perhaps more accurately–does not look like. In today’s First Reading from 1 Samuel, we learn that God does not look on the appearance of the men will be provided as king but rather God looks upon the heart of each of the candidates. Perhaps that is where we get distracted and miss the mark in love–we forget to look at the heart.
The conversations have been excellent in many ways. I have friends who can look deeply and honestly at their hearts and motivations. In debriefing Thorn Birds, that mini-series from the early ’80s starring the sexy Richard Chamberlain, we discussed obsessive love–a love that is or becomes unhealthy. What is it that draws women to the forbidden priest or the married man? Why do men look at girls or younger women with lust? What is it that attracts us to someone in the first place? Most of the relationships in the mini-series are not about love–they are about ambition, domination, control, and lust. No one is really looking at their hearts in healthy ways.
Tonight I saw the movie Brooklyn, a love story that is about love and matters of the heart. We witness the selfless love of a sister, the selfish love of a mother, and the innocent love of a man and woman. We can look at the hearts of each character and know what they are thinking. I think that having a love relationship with someone that is intense but not sexual is a good way to understand what is healthy. The siblings in the film have a beautiful agape love that thinks the best for one another. I think this allows the one sister to fall in love with someone who is genuine and sweet, a man whose heart God would look upon and smile.
I have friends who look at all the wrong things in a relationship and I am sure God looks and shakes a head full of worry. I am also very certain that God looks at my own heart some days and does the same. I have not always made the best choices regarding love but have fared better than some. If we are not exposed to strong relationships, we do not even know what to look for. I remember when I lived in Washington, DC, a couple that had a relationship that seemed to have everything I was looking for. I marveled how they loved each other. Today I recognize some of the elements of a healthy relationship when I see them–a couple who can give of themselves abundantly and yet who understand boundaries, forgiving hearts, a good sense of oneself within the relationship, the ability to argue well, compassion, respect, humour, holding lightly to being right rather than loving, an ability to survive the dry periods without judgment, and a stick-to-it-ness with a sense of joy and creativity. These have nothing to do with what colour hair a person has–or if the person even has hair, body weight and shape, or the beauty found in magazine pages.
I am going to continue to mull over this thing called love as it seems to continue to raise its hand to flag my attention. I am not sure what it is all about but I find it fascinating. I am going to also pray that I may see with the eyes of God what love is really all about.
How has love revealed itself to you over the years?
Would you say that falling in love at first sight may not always be wise?
God, you look upon the hearts of us mortals and know us better than we know ourselves. We rush to anoint the one that is your last pick. Help us to see with your eyes, Creator, and look upon the heart of those we think we love. Show us the way to love. Amen.