From the Uncreated Light

I posted specifically at Midsummer about my growing relationship with my husband when we were children, when we were adolescents, and now through the first two years of our marriage. Several of you remarked on how unique our relationship is, and I distinctly caught some tones of envy in some remarks. I'm not going to rebuke the tones of envy. I am grateful for what God has done for me, and I don't take the honour of having brought it about. That is in the almighty hands of God. What I would like to say now does, however, apply to all of you, and Lord willing the secret which I will presently divulge will be a help and blessing to you all.

This secret, like the toys of young elves left long ago under the heaping mountains, takes a great deal of digging to reach. As time progresses the mountains only grow higher, the earth more compressed and difficult to work with. A vital secret which Heaven has made manifest to mankind (and mankind and Hell have frantically tried to hush up) lies shining in the depths of reality, throwing off its facets God's uncreated light, and we are not now so young and foolish as to miss it, or to neglect searching for it.

The secret is the Essence of Love.

Among the diadem of Heaven's gems, this is the greatest which we can appreciate and emulate. "Am I my brother's keeper?" Cain asked, and God answered by sending his only Son to die to redeem mankind. What other love is there than this? What greater love could there be that would do such a thing? To give up all, even that primal gift of life, for another person - this is love abounding, this is love breaking its banks and laughing at the thought of constraint and contingency. Yes, you are your brother's keeper. Yes, you must love your neighbour as yourself. Yes, you must love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength.

But what is love? Is it meek and mild? Is it a protective tempest? Is it feeling? Is it constancy? What is this attribute (we know that it must be more than mere feeling) that we must possess, which must define all that we do? What is it?

The Essence of Love is to seek the good of its object.

The essence of love is to seek the good of its object. It wants nothing more (which is to say, it wants everything of worth) than to bring about its object's happiness and security. This is the nearest love will come to selflessness, though true love, by its very nature, revels and joys in itself and its work. It delights in the good of its object, it spins out silver good for its object like Grandmother Moon at her wheel, it exists to bring about and to live through bringing about the good of its object. This is love: when everything else has been cleared away from its fringes and its core is left bare, this is love: with all that it is, it strives to bring about its object's good.

Then the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself.

We are not now so young (as the Green Lady reckoned young) and foolish to miss this gem. Christians believe this instinctively. Everything about their faith confirms this: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son...for God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him;" and "greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Why did God save mankind? What could possibly be worthy of salvation in fallen man? These questions have peppered the ages, because we understand that there isn't anything in mankind that is worth saving, not once it has been willfully corrupted. So why? Because of love. Because God, in his ineffable council of wisdom, delighted to extend love to mankind, to seek the good of mankind - not because of any good mankind has ever done, but so that mankind might have good.

This is love, and this is love which we can emulate. I dig out this secret and bring it to the fore because I know that it has been obscured beneath layers and layers of shallow Romantic ideals and odd "biblical" notions, not to mention the whole seething wash of the world's confused, twisted definitions. I dig out this secret and bring it to the fore because I know many of you are looking for Mr Right (or Mrs Right). Personally, I don't hold to the notion of a Mr or Mrs Right, or Perfect, or whatever. But neither do I hold to the notion that you can grab any man or woman off the street and such a marriage would be peachy. There are many, many aspects of a relationship that must be developed, and I am here dealing with only the fundamental. Love is patient, not in the sense that it is kicking around waiting for Mr Right, but because it is loving. Love doesn't require a perfect match of personality, love doesn't require a strong, mature nature: love exists in spite of imperfections, and love endeavours to bring about a holy perfection in its object. If you can say "This person, of all the people in the world, is the person whose good I want to cultivate for the rest of my life" then you are in love.

It'll break your will, it'll change your mind,
It'll loose all the chains of the ties that bind,
And if you're lucky, you'll never make it out alive -
And that's a good thing. Love is a good thing.
It can hurt like a blast from a hand-grenade
When all that used to matter is blown away:
There in the middle of the mess it made
You'll find a good thing.
Yes, it's worth every penny of the price you paid.
It's a good thing.
Love is a good thing.
Andrew Peterson, "Love Is a Good Thing"

6 ripostes:

  1. Very well written, Jenny. :)

    I love what you posted at the end, especially one line: "And if you're lucky, you'll never make it out alive."

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. This is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I guess one cause of my tones of envy (which were hardly even veiled in my last comment) was the lack of someone to share this kind of love with, to have this kind of love for. And I know even as I say it, that it's untrue, because I still have many people to whom I can show such love, but the feeling of lack remains. As I said last time, I know God has his own plans, and I would not have the leisure to leave for Oxford for two years, had I a love holding me here. Most of the time, I am grateful for my position in life. It is right for the moment. Yet still, when I read of you and Connor (sorry, I'm stuck on the habit of TLC names), the "what if"s and "if only"s plague my mind.

    But again I thank you for this, as beautiful as it is. God bless you both.

    Ajnos >'.'<

  3. Ah, Jenny. I'm sure you didn't know how much I needed this.

    Two lines in particular struck me: "To give up all, even that primal gift of life, for another person - this is love abounding, this is love breaking its banks and laughing at the thought of constraint and contingency." Self-sacrifice, especially such deep self-sacrifice, is so often brimming with sorrow; it is hard to remember that beneath that sorrow, above that sorrow, covering and overshadowing the sorrow, there is joy. And not just joy, but merriment - lightsome laughter springing from the lips of "our Merrie Lord". It is a joy to love.

    "If you can say "This person, of all the people in the world, is the person whose good I want to cultivate for the rest of my life" then you are in love." I've scorned the idea of "being in love", and I think I have been right to scorn the world's definition of it, but this - this, Jenny - I have yet to come across a more perfect description of the romantic phenomenon. Thank you for that.

    Thank you for dripping the light from your pen; I shall savour it. (And I do love you.)

  4. Andrew Peterson has a way of hitting the nail on the head, doesn't he, Taylor? It's a very potent image he conjures up there.

    You touched on something, Sonja, which I had wanted to handle but didn't have the space. I chose to follow along after the vein of my Midsummer anniversary post, but the truth (as Anna pointed out to me in our discussion of this, and which I had noticed myself) is that this love isn't limited to "romantic" relationships. I pulled in Jonathan and David for that purpose. Though I chose to limit my scope, this is the essence of love itself, undistilled and pure. No matter the hue or direction your love takes, no matter who you extend it to, at its very core you will find that single sentiment in yourself.

    Megan, you are precisely what I wanted. We all needed to be brought to this realization, and you saw it too. "What, you too? I thought I was the only one!" And maybe you can see it too: a Pysche sort of love, laughing and splendid above any sort of splendour we've known before, condescending to touch us. It's a shot of uncreated light - doesn't it shake you to your soul?

  5. This was exactly what I needed to read, Jenny, thank you so much for sharing the link to this post!
    You've summed up all my fumbling and rambling about what I believed love to be in one succinct phrase: "The essence of love is to seek the good of its object." When I read that, I wanted to jump up and down and shout "yes, yes, yes! It makes sense now! All my vague, scattered thoughts on the nature of love have finally become coherent! Thank you, Jenny!"
    I may not have "fallen in love" yet (you know, I don't much care for that phrase...) but I certainly have experienced love like this. There is nothing in life so exquisitely, extraordinarily wonderful as being caught up in the joy of trying to make someone you care about happy. That is what love is. I've known that. I can write that, if I keep my focus centered on that precious truth.

    As always, I am blessed by your thoughts and your words. Now I am itching with excitement to go write!

  6. This is such a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts I really appreciate it.