How sweet are the syllables that signify love! The human heart has no deeper longing than to utter or hear uttered the words “I love you!” They are like the sight of land to a sailor long adrift.
We pursue many ends—power and pleasure, riches and knowledge, health and fame—and they are worthy ends, but without love they mean little.
All things work together for good to those who love. Love is an attracting force; it draws to itself all that is needed to make life complete. Love gives power, for love is mighty to persuade and influence. Love provides riches, riches of spirit, the riches of a life well lived. Love is a source of health. All the powers of the mind and all the forces of the body are harmonized by love, blended into a healing spirit. Love makes us one with the loving, living spirit of God.
Without love this existence is life imprisonment. Until love sets us free, we are confined in the narrow prison of ourselves. Who has never felt bound as if by walls? Love bursts through these walls of self.
We seek and do not know what it is that we seek. Yet often a word would fill the emptiness, a touch would ease the ache. How little of love it takes to make a house of happiness out of a lonely heart!
We have seen love: in the look of a young man and woman; in the arms of a mother cradling her baby; in the clasped hands of friends; in the bent back of an old priest bowed in the service of God; in the eyes of a student pouring over treasured volumes; in the patience of a biologist peering through a microscope; in the beauty and order of the universe that is the sign of God’s love for us.
What is love? To understand love, one must experience it. Some seek popularity, believing that the approval of people is love, but love is more than popularity. Others seek prestige, believing that this is love, but love is more than prestige. Above all, love is a sharing. Love is a power. Love is a change that takes place in our hearts. Sometimes it may change others, but always it changes us.
To love is to find happiness in making others happy. It is to understand what others think and feel and need. It is to say and do the things that make them eager to be with us, and to do these things not for effect but because it is natural for us to do them.
It is to know the imperfections of others, yet see them perfect. It is to know their weaknesses yet see them strong, and because of our vision and our faith to make them stronger than they are.
It is to accept others as they are; and when they fail our aspirations for them or spurn our outstretched hands, to keep open the doors of our hearts.
It is to appreciate the importance of others and to help them appreciate their own importance.
It is to grow into the hearts of others and to become a part of their lives, yet not bind their hearts nor circumscribe their lives.
It is to lose ourselves in something greater than ourselves, as a small spark loses itself in other sparks and becomes a star.
There is no unworthy love. The object of love may be unworthy. But love is the supreme beauty, the final joy. Even if sorrow comes with love, love makes us able to meet it and transfigure it, to rise through it as we could not have done had we never loved.
When we are in love—with an idea, a person, people, God—we walk on the pinnacles of life. We are lifted out of ourselves and become something more than we have ever been before.
Some are afraid to love, afraid lest their love be unreturned, afraid lest someone catch a glimpse behind their careful mask. Love will lift the mask—but how gentle are the eyes of love! To be afraid to love is to be afraid to live.
Some say that they love God but not people. But how can we love harmony and not music? How can we love light and not the morning? How can we love nature and not the spring? How can we love God and not the likeness of God?
When some feel that they have love, they have only a word. It is easy to say that we love strangers when they are far from us or that we love God when He is but a shadowy abstraction. But when the stranger knocks on the door of our hearts and cries, “Share!” when God becomes the disturber in our souls who answers, “Serve!” we shall find out if we truly love.
Some want to love but do not know how. They are like children who wish to make music but have not mastered any instrument. They have not learned, but they can learn to love. The beginning of love is giving.
To those who have never given it is not easy to give. We begin by giving out a little. We give a smile where we would have passed unheeding. We give a kind word where we would not have spoken.
Do you wish to find yourself? You must lose yourself. Do you wish to be the master of life? You must be its servant. Do you wish to receive love? You must give it. Receiving is a pleasure, but giving is life itself. It is only by giving ourselves away that we grow.
The mind that withholds its wisdom, the strength that refuses the burden is like a wasteland, sterile and meaningless. It is not because it never receives fresh supplies of water but because it has no outlet that the Dead Sea is dead. If the sun should stop giving its light, it would become only another dead star.
We may be a chaos or a cosmos. We may succumb to hate and death or rise to love and life. Love is mightier than hate. Life is stronger than death. To learn to love is to learn the secret of life.
There is a power that links the earth and sun and binds the stars together into galaxies, a power that binds the segments of life into a perfect whole. Alone in our little self, we feel our incompleteness. We know in our hearts that we are a part of something more.
Love is the power that links the lonely islands of our souls, beaten by icy separating seas of ignorance and fear and circumstance. Love is the power that links us all in God, as all the islands are linked in the earth. Yet love is not a chain. Love is completion.
The river runs into the sea, and its waters mingle with the waters of the sea. The sea is not the river and the river is not the sea. Yet who can separate one from the other? O God of love, You are the sea and we are a river flowing to the sea! Who shall say which is the river and which is the sea?
You are a flame, and we are steel tempered in the flame! Who shall say which is the steel and which is the flame?
You are fulfillment and we are desire! Who shall say which is the desire and which is the fulfillment?
You are spirit and we are flesh! Who shall say which is the flesh and which is the spirit?
This is the mystery and miracle of love, that we are separate, yet we are one! And the heart, though it must overleap eternity, will find its own!