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Feather's Miscellany: Love

“The beast within is ennobled by the beauty of love,’’ writes John Waddington-Feather.

I’ve just been reading again St Paul’s wonderful paeon on love in chapter 13 of his First Letter to the Christian at Corinth. It’s sheer poetry and it made me realise how inadequate is the English word ‘love for it has to express many different kinds of love. In this chapter of St Paul’s letter it is Christian love for God and for our neighbour Paul is writing about; and the Greeks actually coined a new word for that kind of love, ‘agape’ for it was a new experience for them.

Shakespeare wrote that love brings out the best even in the worst kinds of people: “Base men, being in love, have then a nobility in their natures more than is native to them.” Charles Lamb wrote something similar: “Man, while he loves, is never quite depraved.” In other words, true love brings out the best even in the worst of us. Both Hitler and Stalin loved their families even when hating and exterminating many of their fellow beings. The beast within is ennobled by the beauty of love.

I’ve observed there is a difference between love in women and love in men. Love with a man is fitful, springing to life when he’s roused or when the mood takes him. He often has to learn to love whereas with a women love seems innate. Just watch a little girl playing with her doll. Love with a woman is all-consuming, her entire being emanates love. Let her but see a baby or young child and her demeanour changes. She is possessed by love for it. Women are the mother of every child they see, even in old age when they are past bearing children. They are readymade grandmothers; whereas, grandfathers have to be coached in their role just as their wives often have to coach them into fatherhood. Observe how easily a woman picks up and cradles a baby in her arms and how awkwardly a man does it till he’s had some practice.

Then we use the word ‘love’ for many mundane things. We love playing cards, or tennis or golf. We love going out for a meal. We love watching our favourite programme on television – all very different kinds of love from those we have for our sweethearts and family.

And what words do we have for love which is soured or crossed? Or how do express absence of love? Usually we use the word ‘hate’ which again covers a multitude of meanings. We hate taking medicine; we hate cold weather; we hate some kinds of food; as well as hating tyrants and the daily obscenities beamed at us by the media. At times we can even have a ‘love-hate’ relationship with some people or things.

Christ left us with only three Commandments: “Love God. Love your neighbour. Love your enemy.” If the world adhered to those how much more we’d love living in it!

John Waddington-Feather ©

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