Deus Caritas Est

Soon, dates will be had and flowers given, chocolates, cards, and cliché verses consumed: Valentine’s Day is almost here. A day to celebrate love, a beautiful thing. And as this time approaches, many will be confronted with loneliness. Not because they do not have dates; no, but because love is an elusive thing. Found one moment then seemingly gone the next.

Where is love, this thing that we so badly want, where is it?

Love is here, always; it is all around us. If only we had eyes to see.

Pause. Breathe. See that you are not alone. See that you are surrounded with color and sound, movement and life: a gift. This is love. The person sitting across the table, the woman with the shopping cart, the policeman in the cop car: this is love.

In one of his poems, the farmer and poet Wendell Berry describes his ideal Heaven to be the world as he knows it but redeemed. In this Heaven, he would have the memories of his mortal life and again dwell in his life-long residence, a farm in rural Kentucky. Berry notes, “A painful Heaven this would be, for I would know / by it how far I have fallen short. I have not / paid enough attention, have not been grateful / enough. And yet this pain would be the measure / of my love.” Here, Berry sees the beauty that is all around, in this earthly home, and calls it good! This is love; do we see it?

As the biblical faith shows, love is characterized by reciprocity, a giving and receiving, ascending and descending. God has invited us, his image bearers, into this love. We find ourselves, and the rest of the earthly world, to be created in goodness. God has given us life, and even himself, and everything that exists speaks to his infinite gift. This is love.

So, as Rainer Maria Rilke writes, “You who let yourselves feel, enter the breathing.” Be still, do not worry about studying enough, being cool, having a date. Come into this. See the love that surrounds us always: the tree branches with the snow, the stack of books ever growing, the text messages waiting on your phone. Do not miss the moment, it will not happen again. Notice the little things, the gifts. Be here. Love is here. Love is here.

Sources: “This Day” by Wendell Berry, “Sonnets to Orpheus” by Rainer Maria Rilke

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