Friday, February 3, 2012

On Love

Love is…
Love Heart Gift Box by Grant Cochrane

With Valentine’s Day peering around the corner, romance hovers in the air. Love is chocolates and flowers. Love is reserving a table at a favorite restaurant. Love is the many little expressions of affection that we bestow on those we love.    

A comic strip called “Love is…” became widely popular around the world in the 1970’s, and is still going strong. Each cartoon features the phrase “Love is…” above an illustration; the phrase is completed beneath.

The phrases are sometimes trite, sometimes amusing, and sometimes sweet. While the cartoon looks simplistic, its insights about relationships and the nature of love are often profound.

As we get ready to celebrate the romantic love associated with Valentine’s Day, let’s take a look at the lighthearted portrayal of love as captured in the “Love is…”comic strip. 

Some characteristics of loving relationships
“Love is… a slow dance together.” It takes time to develop a committed relationship. The initial phases of a relationship can be more like a vigorous jive than a stately waltz. Relationships grow and blossom when we gently hold one another through the various dances of life.

“Love is …losing the game but making a great match.” Sometimes we cannot have our own way. Even in the greatest love matches, there are disappointments and disagreements. Love overcomes the fractious moments, letting go of the insignificant to focus on the essentials.

Heart by Salvatore Vuono
“Love is …not trying to impose your ideas on others.” A loving relationship is based on mutual respect. We must not try to control or overshadow one another. Each person must have the freedom of their individuality, even as the couple grows together, becoming one in spirit.

“Love is … pulling her hair away from her eyes.” Good relationships challenge us to become the best we can be. Sometimes we are blinded by stubbornness; we are set in our ways and opinions. We need the other person to help us see with new vision. Acting with tenderness, the other person can help us widen our horizon when it begins to narrow.

“Love is…toasting the arrival of spring.” Relationships often settle into a comfortable routine. We may begin to take one another for granted. We nurture our relationship when we seek out little reasons to celebrate each other, the relationship, and life in general.

“Love is…cleaning the bathtub after you use it.” Undertaking an ordinary task that is outside our usual realm of responsibility can be an expression of love. On the flip side, saying thank-you for that clean bathtub is equally important. Thoughtfulness and consideration in little things goes a long way in nurturing harmony.

“Love is…letting him be the greedy one.” There is a give and take between each person’s needs and desires. Sometimes we have to put our selves last. Good relationships require self-giving and service from both people.

“Love is…saying you’re sorry” and “Love is…forgiving even if you are really angry.”
Admitting our mistakes is unpleasant. Forgiving when we are angry is really difficult. Love requires that we humble ourselves, and that we cultivate a generous spirit. Love demands that we ask for forgiveness, and that we extend forgiveness.

“Love is…contagious.” The illustration with this phrase shows the couple, holding hands, covered in a heart shaped rash. Loving relationships cannot be contained. Love is directed outwards, becoming a contagion for the good of others, and for the world.

A biblical vision 
Saint Paul penned one of the most frequently quoted “Love is…” passages. While Paul wrote the passage to a community plagued with division, pride, and selfishness, today the passage is often read at weddings, directed to a couple. The passage expresses the quality of relationship that the human heart longs for, and presents the ideal form of interaction between people.

From Paul’s “First Letter to the Corinthians,” we learn the attributes of love. Love is patient and kind. It delights in goodness. Love perseveres in times of trouble. Love is always hopeful. Love is not arrogant or rude. Love is not irritable or selfish. Love overcomes and outlasts all things.

A relationship rooted in the attributes of love is the greatest gift of all. This Valentine’s Day, as we enjoy the more material gifts of romantic love, let us treat our relationships with spouse, family and friends as a joyful dance of love rooted in patience, kindness and humility.

From the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

Photo Credits:
Heart by Salvatore Vuono, courtesy of
Love Heart Gift Box with Ribbon by Grant Cochrane, courtesy of


cmm said...

Cute, light, and fun. Great pre-Valentine's read. Thanks!!

Louise McEwan said...

Special thanks to a reader of the print version of my column for sending this quotation from the Baha'i sacred texts to me. The quotation speaks beautifully about the theology of love. The Christians evangelist John repeatedly describes God as love, "God is love," and as I recently heard one priest say in a homily, "God loves."

“Know thou of a certainty that Love is the secret of God’s holy Dispensation, the manifestation of the All-Merciful, the fountain of spiritual outpourings. Love is heaven’s kindly light, the Holy Spirit’s eternal breath that vivifieth the human soul. Love is the cause of God’s revelation unto man, the vital bond inherent, in accordance with the divine creation, in the realities of things. Love is the one means that ensureth true felicity both in this world and the next. Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul. Love is the most great law that ruleth this mighty and heavenly cycle, the unique power that bindeth together the divers elements of this material world, the supreme magnetic force that directeth the movements of the spheres in the celestial realms. Love revealeth with unfailing and limitless power the mysteries latent in the universe. Love is the spirit of life unto the adorned body of mankind, the establisher of true civilization in this mortal world, and the shedder of imperishable glory upon every high-aiming race and nation.”