Yesterday kicked off the annual Thirty Days of Love which stretches from around Martin Luther King Day to Valentine’s Day, two appropriate book ends for a long exploration for the meaning and need of love in the world. This year the campaign focuses on multiculturalism as both an expression of love and an avenue toward social justice, The Standing on the Side of Love web site will post daily reflections and activities for both individuals and congregations with different themes each week. In the spirit of the campaign a new cooperative effort by Unitarian Universalist bloggers from across the country and around the world share their thoughts on love daily in what has been called a blog-a-thon. These blogs, one or more a day, are being collected and linked to on Notes from the Far Fringe.
I signed up to contribute a bit further down the line—look for a post on February 4. But seeing the first blogs posted today I felt compelled to jump in with a commentary on love.
You can probably see it coming. Yep, more of that damned poetry.
The trouble with the word love is that it is so damned elastic. It is a lot like Silly Putty—you can stretch and mold it, but if you hit it with a hammer it will break like china. And if you press it to a pretty picture and pull it off, lo and behold, there you have it on the flat side of the wad. It can mean hot, down and dirty sexual lust, romantic hearts and flowers, parental adoration, emotional attachment to inanimate objects, something handed out by God, or a lofty philosophic concept. It can be all touchy-feely puppy dogs and kittens one moment and the next demand that you lay down your life. What’s worse, we are expected to know exactly what kind of love is meant every time we trip over the word.
How to explain it? Tough job. So long ago I called on a wizard.
Love is the only magic—
It enriches the giver
as it nourishes the object.
It serves the instant
and washes over the ages.
It is as particular as the moon
and as universal as the heavens.
If returned it is multiplied
yet spurned it is not diminished.
It is as lusty as the rutting stag
but as chaste as the unicorn’s pillow.
It comes alike to the king on his throne
and the cut purse in the market.
If you would have magic,
place faith in love or nothing.
Not bad. Remind me to buy the old coot a drink.
Having lifted it from him, I published it under my own name in my 2004 collection We Build Temples in the Heart. Reportedly has become a favorite reading at some U.U. Valentine services, weddings, and other occasions celebrating love.
May as well throw it on your porch this morning on day two of the Thirty Days of Love.