By Ellen Nimmo
A couple weeks ago I heard five people share five true stories about love. My face surely must have appeared strangely contorted throughout that fateful hour, as I was busy holding back a ferocious session of ugly-cry teardrops.
These were stories of steadfast devotion, radical acceptance, courageous trust, generous gratitude, and heaping helpings of charity. Each story was beautiful, in its own right. They wrecked me, yes, the storytellers socked it right to me with their stories of love, in the best way.
Listening to someone authentically share true tales of love created space in my own mind to muse a bit on love. Which ain’t no picnic because: What does it even mean to love? I mean really.
The way we define it might be different. Still, I suppose it means you care about them, the beloved. Yes, I suppose you’d probably take pleasure in being with and around them, most of the time. Yes, and I think it’s safe to say one would likely take a special interest in their well-being, their growth, their life. At least that is how I’d describe it if someone put me on the spot. Yes, if someone asked me, I’d say that loving someone is complex. I’d say it is simple too. What would you say?
And what does love do anyway? Riddle me this.
Hello, complex! Love likely looks different for each of us, and in each of our relationships love probably has a slightly different tone than another, but there are some humble overtures we’d surely hear in the resounding, song of love – at least, that’s what I’d say if you asked me. Especially after last Thursday when my don’t-you-dare-cry skills got bumped up to a semi-professional level. If given more time I might even try and write a gauche poem about love.
Love gives. Attention. Resources. Time. Grace.
Love listens. Laughs. Includes. Serves.
Love is gritty. Holds in tame steadfastness. Releases to wild liberty.
Musing on love can turn into a self-shame-session, so I had to pump the breaks. Writing it out like that reminds me just how often I don’t choose love, how I let self-preservation or an expedient renege on patience cloud my desire to be a loving-being. Oh, and if you were feeling any of that shame sh*t, I beg your pardon. Wasn’t my intent. I guess it’s just what happens when I think about the ideal of love. That is, Love Supreme compared to the way I love. Because inevitably, I fall short. I lose patience. I lack kindness. I seek to preserve myself and let love tumble out of view.
And other people have, at times, shown a lack of love for me too.
Still, I believe: We were created to give and receive love. We may be bad at loving, but that doesn’t make the fact that we were made for it untrue. Do you agree?
While I was still in the midst of mulling over my musings on love, I had the good fortune to taste some. Yes, there amidst the minutes and hours of an ordinary day in February was devotion, acceptance, trust, gratitude, and heaping helpings of charity.
The more I thought about those five stories of love I heard, the more I thought about how I was experiencing and sharing it myself. And I realized: Love ventures into the ordinary, the mundane, the messy, to do its renovating, innovating work. Inviting us to allow more room for itself; yes, love begets love. Or it should, one might say. Tiptoeing in to gently transform, echoing, even if in a whisper, “Transcendence,” and “Love, love, love.” Everlasting to everlasting.
As I listen to, remember, heed, and experience love, I am reminded it is ever mine to be received, it is ever mine to share. Which, of course, is why my face is so strangely contorted at the moment.