To have a friend, spouse, or partner who is wise is a treasure more than gold. More than thirty year ago I worked with a man of deep wisdom and while many things he taught me remain a part of me, one in particular stands out. He said, “Love is effusive of itself, remember that.” My wise friend has long since departed this earth, but I still remember. Love is effusive of itself, thus by its nature, love creates more love. Genuine love is continuously creating, growing exponentially. St. Paul, another wise man, suggested that love endures all things, and that in the end while it remains along with faith and hope, it is indeed the greater.
We humans are hard-wired for love, and thus we instinctively crave it. Some will go to any length to prove love; others pledge it to another exclusively for a lifetime and still others make love their purpose through a life of solitude and solidarity, such as in a contemplative lifestyle of a nun or monk. The diverse ways people live out love makes the world a special place where the desire for love is an ordinary, not extraordinary experience.
As people who specialize in funeral care, we regularly witness the deep grieving borne from relationships of profound love. Each grief is personalized to the relationship it laments, and each person deeply loved is mourned as an incomparable loss. While the adage “It is better to have love and lost, than never to have loved at all” rarely alleviates a broken heart, it is an often-repeated maxim because there is some truth to it. But the problem with this saying is that love is never really lost, it transcends the limits of time and space. Hence, I frequently counsel people that the work of grief is to establish their new relationship with the deceased. The Catholic liturgy puts it perfectly, “Life has not ended, it has changed.” Love has not ended, it seeks a newfound expression in the unseen, the unheard; it engages us in an inimitable communication. As human beings, love is the first gift we receive, the one that makes life meaningful, and the one we take with us when we die. My wise friend was correct, love is effusive of itself and continues to create and grow beyond death.
In celebration of Valentine’s Day here are some of my favorite quotations on love.
“True love is eternal, infinite.” (Honore de Balzac)
“Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves.” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin)
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” (Lao Tzu)
“To love another person is to see the face of God.” (Les Misérables)