Sometimes it seems nothing is more simple than love… I don’t mean romantic shilly-shallying between couples on the verge of relationship… I mean LOVE, all love real love… the kind between a happy mother and child, or close siblings, or best friends, or old colleagues, and yes, sometimes between couples too, the kind that says essentially:’Oh yes I know YOU and you know ME… and isn’t that wonderful’
It is a kind of deep reciprocal recognition that transcends words, and such moments of reciprocal recognition are wonderful, and can happen with almost anyone. They are moments of real humanity and also of divinity, such moments of love.
Yet often it seems that nothing is more difficult than love… amid the jostling to assert our own identities, we trample others’ and distort our own… In the struggle to be loved, we put forward all sorts of social masks that render our true selves unrecognisable… And in the movement of life, we will often do almost anything to avoid the vulnerability that such moments of love entail… It is an almost constant, often unconscious game of hide-and-seek.
And it is a game we play with God and with ourselves as well as others… but it won’t be played forever: ‘now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known’ (1 Corinthians 13:12)
And in the hiding and seeking, when we encounter moments of love, even then they can become distorted… we can try to fight to hold onto them, with demands of loyalty, of exclusivity, with the threat of guilt and with a hundred other worldly interventions… We encounter love , God, in the moment of stillness and recognition… and then we move again to possess it and make it our own, motivated by fear of loss… loss of that love to another person, loss of that love through our own imperfection, loss of that love through another’s imposition, and by the time we are afraid, we have already ceased to recognise, and the moment of love has passed.
But it is not love that decieves us, it is everything else in the world -and principally the fear that love will abandon us, that we are unloved, unlovable, unloving and unlovely… that we must compete for love. But that is not true.
We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1John 4:16)
So the next time you encounter one of those moments of complete recognition… be it in the eyes of that stranger at the bus-stop as you smile at something beautiful together, or in the handshake of an old friend as you both catch yourselves being glad for each other at the same time… then remember and give thanks, that you are together in love, and that you are thus together in God, and those moments are moments of truth.