It’s easier to hate than to love, so they say. Love takes hard work. Though I’m not so sure about this for some people put a lot of effort into their hate and some are lazy in Love. It takes great courage to love. For as we hear from St. Paul, 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. Well that’s nice. Good for love. Where does it leave us? For often we’re given a vision of Love which is more like the following:
Cruel, intolerant, indignant, restless, hasty, demanding, impetuous, merciless, fearful, and Love, we hear keeps a long and very detailed record of wrong-doing. Not quite the image of Love in St. Paul’s letter, more likely to be found on some TV show or other – sadly too numerous to mention.
‘Love is a verb’ say messers Mooney and Wroe in ‘Lifelines’ and as every grammar teacher is wont to say that’s a ‘doing word’.
‘The most excellent way’ begins with the one writing. Reminding readers that if one doesn’t act out of love then one is but a clanging cymbal or a sounding brass (if you read the authorised version) which immediately reminds me of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Gareth crying out ‘Good Point’. Then there is the description of the Love Agape, the love of god, where ours might fail god’s does not.
So here is an exercise in doing Agape Love with the most excellent way.
Remove the word love and insert the name of the person with whom you’ve just argued or whoever has just been on the other end of the telephone when complaining to the government, bank, or whichever institution it might be this time. Chances are that the person, yes, we often forget, the voices on the other end of the line are not synonymous with the company and its poorly constructed telephone system, policies or government department seemingly intent on mystifying us as to the correct way to go about whatever it is we are desperately trying to do, but a person, just like us and most probably having as awful a day as well. So before firing off the email repeat the passage with the recipients name. Inserted instead of ‘Love’. There is one more step though. Before doing all that, and this is the hardest of all, believe me I’ve tried it, insert your own name instead of the word love, for unless we are able to first love ourselves we will not be able to love others as God has intended…