The word LOVE….
This compact unpretentious little word has perhaps more power crammed into its meagre four letters than almost any other word.
We can apparently make, give or send it, but when we lose it or are deprived of it, we are torn apart.
During the 1950s, at a single-figure childhood age, I remember feeling slightly squirmy when the word love was used.
Love was one of those words used by grown-ups which seemed to provoke mirth and embarrassment in equal measure.
In Hollywood films the arrival of love was signalled to the audience by a large string orchestra playing a soaring crescendo of emotion-packed chords and themes.
We would see the two featured stars in separate close-ups, who in spite of being on opposite sides of a noisy, crowded room, would somehow notice only each other, and after just a few steps they would be in each other’s arms.
By some miracle, nobody got trodden on or had their drink spilt.
The cinema audience would react with some stifled nose-blowing, and perhaps a few damp cheeks.
At school there were girls – at least up until the age of eleven, after which, many of us went on to single-sex schools.
During this pre-pubescent period, the word love (which was really only ‘LUV’ according to one of our teachers and therefore meaningless), was used a lot, especially by girls. A knot of giggling females would emerge from some group discussion in a corner, and propel the chosen victim towards a boy. There would then be a sort of chorus of “she loves you”, and the wriggling girl would be pushed forward, protesting. This was often not entirely unexpected by him, as it would have been the subject of ‘whisperings’ for several days.
If the boy knew that some of his mates were witnessing all this, he might affect a sort of casual, cool, insouciant reaction, in spite of being really quite worked-up inside!
It was what was expected, and was lifted directly from the myriad cowboy films that could be seen on television any day of the week during the fifties and sixties. What was good enough for Clint Eastwood was fine by us!
I have quite fond memories of this period because it had as its chief appeal a sort of simplicity and innocence that would rapidly evaporate in the coming years, during which our biological clocks would inexorably propel us into the turbulent waters of puberty.
I remember fresh-faced girls (without any make-up of course), but just a slight smell of scented soap, who would laugh and allow a brief peck on their cheek during one of the frequent bouts of “kiss-chase” in the playground. This was one of the few opportunities one had for contact with the opposite sex, as girls and boys tended to congregate with their own gender while in school.
During this period, the word LOVE was really just LUV. That teacher had been spot-on, for it was just a pale watered-down imitation of the romantic love that was portrayed in films and discussed in myriad magazines.
With the arrival of American pop music came a transatlantic variant of this which was LURVE.
During religious instruction lessons, which were often little more than bible stories being read to us, we learned about the God of Love.
A hymn used the words “The God of Love, my shepherd is” and the prayer “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” also used the idea of us as God’s flock of sheep. The love of God, it seemed, had little in common with any of the romantic forms of love which seemed so omnipresent in books, films and the media.
For a start, God’s love was unconditional.
God loved us, his creation, all equally, and that was that…
God’s love was constant…
God’s love was forever…
With romantic love, people could ‘fall in AND out of it’ in spite of the diet of ‘happy ever after’ endings that we were fed by the books and films. The very actors and actresses who on-screen were exemplars of fidelity, would become off-screen, notorious for their frequent dalliances.
Divorce followed marriage as day follows night.
We learnt that God sent his son Jesus, to Earth, to teach us that we should all love each other and not fight wars.
Considering the word ‘Love’ has such global importance, its dictionary definition is scant to say the least. ‘Warm affection’, ‘strong emotional attachment’, ‘self-sacrificing goodwill’ are just a few stabs that my dictionary makes at this mega-word.
Jesus presented that we should love our fellow man and forgive them their transgressions. He was famously crucified between two well-known criminals and this made one of them very uneasy about the injustice of it, protesting verbally. Although one cannot be sure of the veracity of this, it demonstrates that even a member of humanity who had gone ‘astray’, recognised the absolute injustice of the situation.
Jesus, during his short life, had demonstrated the all-inclusiveness of God’s love by associating with such people.
Unfortunately for him and us, the teachings of Jesus fell largely on deaf ears and in spite of the religious organisations that his words spawned, humanity continued to ‘get it wrong’ for centuries.
It is hugely ironic that Jesus’ teachings were misinterpreted as revolutionary and seditious, and he was put to death publicly, in one of the cruellest and most painful ways devised by man.
He was scornfully described as ‘King of the Jews’ by his detractors – among whom numbered the various ‘Royal’ families and of course the Roman occupiers. It must be said though, that the Romans seemed far less enthusiastic about putting him to death than the local population.
Ultimately, they seemed to regard Jesus more as a potential public-order threat than a dangerous individual. The famous ‘washing of hands’ by Roman governor Pontius Pilate, to distance himself and his empire from this distasteful event, is symbolic of Rome’s reluctance to get involved in what seemed to them no more than ‘a little local difficulty’.
So are we any the wiser about the word ‘love’?
Nobody ever claimed that Love was easy.
It’s hard to love your neighbour when their barking dog keeps you awake or their children party into the small hours, showing no consideration for you or anybody else!
- Firstly… we are not all separate individuals. We are, in effect, all ‘chips off the same block’ and we are all equal, in love and all else.
- Secondly… we all contain within each of us the intelligence of the heart and everything we need to know about everything, including love!
- Thirdly… everything consists of energy and that includes Love.
- Fourthly… we must first discover how to love ourselves before we can love others.
This final point, that Serge Benhayon presents consistently through example, is perhaps the most relevant when forgiving your transgressing neighbours!
So far from being a mushy/weepy/sentimental word, the word Love is in effect very muscular, robust and powerful.
According to a song, it’s what makes the world go round, but I think that this is possibly an understatement.
It is at the very least, the universal driving energy that has propelled humanity right through the dark ages to the present day and continues to drive us forward and upward.
By Jonathan Cooke, France