On Love

 

I have been thinking a lot about love lately. Some of my questions are the following; what is it? Is it important? Does it change over time? As we age? Is it limited? Is it innately good? Does it require reciprocity to be real?

Here are my answers in order: a certain type of close connection, yes, sure, depends, to some degree, eventually. I hope this was helpful to anybody else who was also wondering about these things.

P.S.

The Greeks had four words that I am familiar with to describe love. I am not interested in formal definitions, but it is interesting that we only have one word. Maybe I should say I only have one, usually reserved for describing a day spent smoking ribs, drinking beer, and watching or listening to a game. In Kansas City, this is considered more of a sacred ritual than a past time. As a city, we don’t insist that all people love sports and barbeque. If you’re not into the town’s teams you can play music and eat barbeque. If you’re not into barbeque, you can have intestinal problems of some type or be one of the allowed vegans to show we are up to date. I will admit we have an increasing number of sushi eaters. Fads, what can you do? It is the perfect city for a guy like me who likes people, just not too many. In my case, throat cancer and not totally unrelated dental problems have turned my devotion to ribs into more of an arduous task than a labor of love. It is the memory of drinking beer and eating ribs that I am still in love with. The sensual pleasure I use to get no longer exists. A phrase I frequently heard and consistently rebelled at when I was at Mayo, was, “you have to get used to a new normal”. It takes a certain kind of person to make “don’t either have to” sound like a well-reasoned argument. I believe I did.

When trying to figure out what love is we need to ask how much of love contains reason. At what points do they intersect or do they intersect at all. Love is a topic I want to explore over several installments. I like the word explores. It fills my mind with images of wandering in a strange wilderness not knowing what mystery I might uncover. Maybe, I will try and remember what different kinds of love used to feel like and mean. Lately, I find the imagery for exploring works for remembering.

Comments welcome.

I will leave you with one final question, is love everywhere or hard to find?

Lady who Broke the Jar

(“where the gospel is preached,  what she has done will be told “)

Lady who broke the alabaster jar

did you know you would be remembered?

Did you know you would become the standard?

Was the symbolism planned?

Did it just flow from a spontaneous act of love & devotion?

What’s that? Less of the mind and more of the heart.

That’s why you can reach out across time and speak

to those who will listen.   I’m listening.

Praying I am given ears to hear and understand.

You tell me I am an earthen vessel and like the jar must be broken.

Only then can the good inside flow out and be refilled, purified.

But I hesitate to empty out the last portion.

A big man attired in his sturdy amour enters my thoughts,

His name is caution, seizing the opportunity,

he takes control, his advise is simple, hold back.

He orders “Save the jar, surely that amount is sufficient.”

Soft sweet hands caress my face

Blessed lips whisper in my ear

Just one word, “break”.

Softly, I protest, I have loved before and been betrayed.

Caution speaks up,

“should he expose his neck to the ax and the wolf.”

His shell is a shield, he is not hiding, it is self- defense I tell you.

It does not keep good in;  it keeps the bad out.

His scars are proof that the fears are real and they do cut,

Some are deep, the wounds heal some, remain some.

Then that feminine loving voice speaks again.

She does not refute Caution’s contentions or address my doubts.

Look at me! is all she says.

Looking into her eyes my mind was consumed with images of her.

Breaking the alabaster jar, the anointing nard running through his hair, preparing his feet.

I become confused are those her tears or mine, maybe his?

I see this soft, smooth hair with a wild, natural edge to it,

begin to wipe his feet.

The scorn of the onlookers cannot penetrate her hearing.

The senses often follow the heart and hers is fixed.

Caution’s husky voice brings me back to reality.

He has said his piece and walks out.

I watch him walk away,

his amour turns into a finely tailored suit,

his horse a Maserati.

Without wealth, I still face the rich man’s choice.

Engulfed by a sense of emptiness

I notice her touch has been removed

She smiles and turns, pausing she extends her hand.

If I take It, I will never be here again,

I will be vulnerable again.

Risking disappointments and pain

and yes, the joys and faith of a child

Help me choose wisely.

Additional Info

Biblical accounts

lady and the Jar     -Mathew 26:6-14, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-8, Luke 7:36-50

Rich man                  -Mark10: 17-31, Luke 18:22, Matthew 19:21

In writing this my goal was to reflect the larger picture that the biblical accounts surrounding this Lady and Jar meant to me. There are many sermons that accent different parts of these accounts the vast majority of which I have never heard. There is so much packed in an economy of words in these accounts that I chose to make passing reference to some and by in large spend my time on the act itself and the choice demonstrated and implied. There are reasons to believe that not all the accounts (especially Luke) refer to the same incident or Lady. These are issues I did not concern myself with. I believe sometimes we don’t read close enough or spend the time it takes to learn sufficient context to get the big picture. Often there is more than one important lesson. Conversely, the other camp sometimes gets so wrapped up in details they fail to see the forest for the trees. I spend my fair share of time in both.  I am more of a question than answer guy.

Listen, please

 

I am not educated in anything particular, still, I demand my right to add my voice to this excessively noisy world. Without stature, and being of little to no value to mankind, community, family or friends; I am hard pressed to explain why I should, but none the less I will speak. All you busy people, Stop and Listen, there are too many people talking and responding with no discernable knowledge. There are too few listening. I sometimes question if some youth know how to listen. Too often they just hear, maybe respond, and dismiss, perhaps delete or trash is a better word. I believe the correct term for when my Papa said listen up is active listening. In addition to the overall decline in active listening, I have noticed that the skill involved in what my Nana called talking on the phone to gabby friends (pseudo listening to us moderns) is also sorely lacking. If done properly the other person thinks you’re listening. Perhaps it is just me, but I like for people to try and act like they’re not blowing me off or else just say excuse me and move on to the next important task on their electronic device. By now I am sure you are asking, “Why should I have to be quiet when you get to talk?” There are three reasons: first, I have every confidence your fingers or lips will be flying in communication shortly. I wonder if listening can count as communicating? Second, at least I know I shouldn’t be talking even though I am. Do you?  Lastly, I am not really talking. Let me elaborate, I have no agenda. I lost it along with my dreams and ambition. They are out of date, so if you find them, please discard. This means I am not trying to persuade you to do something, join my side, or even convince you there is any redeeming factor left to find in me. Visualize me as less of a person and more of a guide. Picture an uninformed tour guide who is at the back of the bus. He knows not where we are going, only where we’ve been. That’s me. I simply try to point out certain things for your consideration on our journey. For example, look at the giraffe in that mans backyard. Do you think that young girl should climb up its’ neck to reach the apple in the tree?  Everyone looks like a kid to me. Oh look, that semi doesn’t look like it is going to stop. Does anyone else want to scream in terror? It is only natural. It always looks darkest before you get run over. My true friends avoid me so I won’t bother asking to copy and paste or is it post? Is that what people say? I’m sorry I wasn’t listening. Did you know every tool and person has its purpose? They can be great when used properly. I always liked that Dick and Jane kind of rhythm to writing. I am a simple man.