As Valentine's day approaches I reflect that there is nothing so wondrous as love. Love has the power to transform the commonplace into the unique, to find light were there was merely pallor, depth where there was shallows, and artful shapes within the shadows of existence. All of us are born with the need and ability to love, though some of us kill it in ourselves; but for most, it seeds within our souls, ready at every touch of warmth to grow and blossom and flower. Love it is that reminds us we are human, that flesh is not a barrier but a bridge, that calls us from the isolation of ourselves to find the possibility that life contains of joy and understanding and release from loneliness. Loneliness makes life shallow and small and sparser; love makes life deep and big and richer. Loneliness is a sheet of sandpaper, flat and dun and dry; love is the ocean, heaving with life, profound with mystery. How can we hope to know anything about life without love; how can we truly understand who we are and why we are if not in the light of love? Embraced by its warmth and reassurance, we do understand, not intellectually but instinctively, that there is more to life than our solitary selves.
When I look for the next word or phrase of this reflection, I need think only of the face of my beloved, have only to summon to my mind her soft and rounded features, her half-moon arch of brows, the russet flood-tide of her hair, the mild expression of her brown eyes, and the subtle smile that says so much more than I could ever write of what it means to love. Such is the transformative force of love: that in her eyes and the gentle, consoling light of them, I find myself reflected not as I habitually see myself, grim and flawed and alone, but as she sees me; and in her wordless gaze I find myself reborn as I once was, a child wound within the light of love.
People say that god is love, and while I do not agree with it, I grasp the intent of it. It is extrapolation, a natural hyperbole of our fondest, rarest experience, the experience of love. Love releases us from the confinements of ourselves, connects us up with timelessness, and convinces us in every vein and cell and pulsebeat of our bodies that something pure and ineffable resides within our minds and hearts and souls. And so, quite naturally, we expand this vague and delirious sensation out beyond the universe and deposit it with something we call god. That apotheosis of the highest sense of self is instinctual and perfectly understandable. We do it because we know deep in our souls that it is only in the eyes of the beloved, in those breathless, wordless moments when our inmost selves are seen and cherished by another, that we truly are alive, and that the birthright of innocence and joy we all possessed can once again be new. And so we wish those moments to be melded into a fluid eternity of regard in which our souls can breathe the pristine atmosphere that is unselfish love.
Thus do we hope to live forever, not as we love but as we are loved, by that which has no flesh or eyes or words; thus do we aspire to be eternal, in the breathless, timeless silence of the other. And whether such ethereal embrace is possible or not, we still may find it dwelling in the moments when, in wonder and in longing, we find ourselves reflected in the eyes of those we love, and who love us.