"Love is patient and kind."
- I Corinthians 13:4
I walked 900 kilometers to take this picture with my favorite person. We walked it together, patiently - one step at a time. It was slow. It was hard. It was joyful. It was painful.
It was an act of love.
Vonnegut famously said love should be a much longer word and almost impossible to spell. I'm dyslexic, so I have enough trouble with the short version, but I get where he's coming from.
The rest of the verse about love in Corinthians is an articulation of what love isn't. The last couple of phrases (I Corinthians 13:7) get back to what love is. "Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures."
I've been enamored of the idea of acceptance lately - saying yes. Love, I think, does just that. It is accepting - always.
A lot of people use the Bible much in the same way a drunkard uses a lamppost, for support not illumination. (I totally stoled that one.). In the language of evangelicals, this is called proof-texting. I've sat in countless discussions (usually pedantic arguments) where some cad cites book and chapter - totally out of context - to support a notion that is comfortable for them.
Let's just skip the comfort part. Let's be uncomfortable. Let's be uncertain. Let's be more accepting.
On this, the night we like to call amateur night, I wish the couples who are smitten with attraction all the best in their romantic endeavors. Take her out to that expensive restaurant. Buy her those flowers. Give her that necklace. But please don't think that any of these things makes for true love. Please don't interpret the flowers - which are going to die in short order - as a measure of love. Please don't construe the necklace as a harbinger of endless and enduring adoration. These are things. They are stuff. They are not love.
Instead of a grand gesture, how about you just show up. How about you be there - present - for your loved one. How about you put the phone down, look at your guy and tell him something good. How about you cook her an amazing dinner on a random Tuesday when she's worked her ass off all day. How about you settle in and commit to being a partner and a friend. How about you take a couple of months and walk together across a country.
I don't have a real problem with Valentine's Day. If it's your thing, go for it. But I have some fairly strong misgivings about the notion that we can shove all the romance and love into one night. We are goaded into doing this by the ceaseless ads and marketing. I have misgivings about buying things - usually junk that won't last - to prove your love.
How about this:
Be patient and kind.
That seems like a great place to start. Yeah?