If you were to tell me that I would be re-visiting the concept of love on this blog five years later, I would tell you that you’re joking. But alas, here we are.

The ultimate philosophical question

What is love? I am not sure if that question can ever be fully answered, but I think it can surely be discussed. When I was discerning graduate programs, I was overwhelmed by so much fear. Little did I know one phone call with a current student and the mentioning of Fr. Pedro Arrupe’s prayer on love would be the thing to make me take a leap of faith and commit to my graduate program. For context, I will provide the prayer below.

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ

I think media often promotes a static perception of love. In my early childhood, I would watch one too many Disney movies (typical Ekman, let’s be honest). The main characters would fall in love in the second to last scene. In this case, I am referring to romantic love—but I would imagine other examples can reflect the same static notion of love. 6 year old Ekman was obsessed (obviously), but it also was hard to imagine how this depiction fully encapsulated love.

Every time I return to Arrupe’s prayer, it consoles me. The idea of “falling in love” was not exactly encouraged in my upbringing let alone in my vocational discernment. Also, to be in love is quite a conundrum. It requires a total surrendering of oneself while also a recognition of one’s personhood/ gifts/ capabilities. They say you never forget your first love, and I have found this statement to be true. Mine was the classroom (no, it was not a crush…shocker, I know). It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, but rather throughout time and in building relationships with my mentors/ educators. This love has been sustained by my desire to hopefully teach and continue to learn in Catholic education. My point? This type of love was challenging. In fact, I was reluctant to participate for most of my secondary education. I would skip class, re-write the question as the answer on math tests, produce work and fail to turn it in because I deemed my work as “less than”. Despite various efforts made on behalf of my educators, I initially failed to show up to teacher meetings and discuss my academic struggles. Essentially, I graded myself before I allowed for any teacher/ educator to do so. In my construed mindset, to complete an assignment and turn it in was more daunting as opposed to just not trying. During this time, not turning in an assignment was more predictable vs. having my work be measured by others.

By the time my first year of high school came to an end, I was exhausted. I was emotionally tired of trying to explain why I was too frightened to try, and frankly, I didn’t have the words for it. It was not until the fourth (or maybe even fifth) chat with my high school counselor, where I was able to name the issue(s).

Overtime (we are talking the remainder of high school plus some of college) I began to participate in the classroom. I began to speak up and find comfort in the material as well as confide in my peers for support. My love of learning took a bit of time to develop, but it has also been the most fruitful love.

God’s love

The notion of a Christ-like love or agape has always made sense to me on paper, but lately I have been meditating with this form of love: this summer, in particular, I have opened my eyes to a greater love found in community. The way I describe faith or “signs” to my peers would be in the continual emerging of themes. For instance, if a topic keeps entering the conversation, I try to deem it worthy of a pause. Needless to say, the amount of times love has been brought up has been hard to ignore.

After hearing about love repeatedly in the past month, dedicating a podcast episode to this topic, and even spending time in spiritual direction on the notion of love, I surely thought I had given this theme enough space for prayer and reflection. Narrator: Ekman was wrong.

This past weekend, I opened one of Richard Rohr’s books, Immortal Diamond, and the book happened to be stuck on the page dedicated to love and truth.

The risen Christ is, as teilhard de chardin tried to describe it, the divine lure, a blinking, brilliant light set as the omega point of time and history that keeps reminding us that love, not death, is the eternal thing. Love, which is nothing more than endless life, is luring us forward, because love is what we also and already are and we are drawn to the fullness of our own being. remember, “Like knows like” and like an electromagnetic force, it is drawing the world into a fullness of love. We will finally have no choice. love always wins.

Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond

Rohr’s words reminded me of the notion of agape: unlike other forms of love, God’s love is not conditional: or, it is unmerited. To know there is nothing I can do to prove who I am is actually quite challenging to process. Previously, I have neglected to sit with agape as it pertains to my life and how I view wholeness. My recent reflections on God’s love in community have been overwhelming. To know I am enough is both liberating and unfamiliar.

In Rohr’s writing, he expresses if one is truly committed to love, they will have nothing to fear. Once again, this statement is both freeing and overwhelming. Agape brings restoration. To know I am who I am apart from the labels prescribed onto me and the associations I have created internally is a new space to operate in.

On the note of love, I was revisiting my 2017 Spotify wrapped the other day (big Spotify wrapped fan), and I re-discovered Hunter Hayes’ Rescue. For starters, I think it is apparent that my 2017 was a very challenging year. I posted significantly more on this blog as an outlet. With this in mind, I think I found comfort in this song as it helped me to navigate a very challenging season of growth. Disclaimer: This song does not explicitly state love, but Hayes’ interpretation of rescue as a way of “coming home” reflects how I have seen God’s love unfold in my life.

Where am I at now?

Well, love has still managed to sneak its way into the conversation (thanks, universe)—so I guess you could say I am still sitting with this concept. To be quite honest, I don’t think this theme is going away anytime soon in my prayer life. As much as I wished I could wrap up this blog post and successfully say that I’ve “cracked the code” on love, that is not the case. Stay tuned.

Until then, I hope to continue to write and share any new insights as they emerge. Thanks for reading.