For so many people, February’s focus seems to be Valentine’s Day. Roses fill the stores and jewelry and perfume are advertised as signs of how much women are loved. The paradox is that Lent begins on February 10th with Christians all over the world focusing on sacrificial love.
Love needs expression! English attempts to convey so much in this one word. The Greeks use four words. Eros: a bodily experience of love; Phileo: affection between people; Agape, a sacrificial form of love unwilling to abandon that which is loved; and, Storge which is love of community and family.
Depending upon what’s happening in your life, the month of February can hold all of those qualities and experiences of love!
For people facing a terminal diagnosis, the waiting, the anxiety, the dizziness that comes from needing to make decisions means they stand exposed before the Mystery of Life and Love. “I am going to live until I die” proclaims a woman with stage 4 cancer and in this declaration she touches the hearts of all who know her. Living each day becomes the focus of Love for people with terminal illnesses. Their days are filled with trips for chemo or radiation treatment, doctor visits, and pain medications. And in the midst of all of this, they gather with family and friends because these connections are important touchstones of love and vitality. To be invited into the journey of people facing death is one of the greatest gifts of love we can be offered —embracing all the Greek words of love in one act of profound generosity.
“He knows me” came from a mother gazing into the eyes of her newborn child. And in that moment came a level of commitment that would transcend all the sleepless nights and worries as the child grew. Her love would be tested, but the bond of love could not be broken.
There are many moments in our lives that may not be as dramatic as both of these examples but the love we receive is profound. In those moments, we know that we are known. A touch, a gaze, a tender embrace or even a challenging word, open us to love and evoke within us a desire to love in return.
But there is even more love available to us: Divine Love! This quality of love contains all the Greek words for love and transcends them. It is a faithful love that says “even if your father and mother forsake you, I will never leave you”. It is a transforming love that says “come, follow me and I will love you into becoming what you can’t even imagine possible”. It is generative love that breathes life within each creation and invites us to continue choosing life.
The love of God is an opus sung to us in the daily rhythm of our lives. May you hear and experience this love this February. May you know how deeply and personally you are loved!