Taking the Measure of Love

Love. It defines us. Sometimes it wrecks us. More has been written about love than about any other aspect of our human nature. And yet, we have no solid knowledge about its mechanisms. We come upon it, often, by chance. Is love enough, we wonder? Does the comfort and joy outweigh the risk?

Once we find it, we recognize it. Yes. Love. It consumes us. It compels us to give. Lovers are givers, and they are receivers. When two lovers each give more than they receive there is between them a field of grace—a cushion, supple and welcoming, where giving overlaps giving and generosity runs amok. It is in this field of grace that tolerance abides, and forgiveness breathes.

Grace in Death 2There are times when we may find ourselves standing on a precipice and asking, Should I leap in? How much do I want to give? How much do I have to offer? These are the questions worth considering – not, am I lovable? We are all lovable.  We all have it in us to embrace a community, a world, a tree, a pet … another person. It is in the giving that the returns will come to us with a staggering richness. And it is in the giving that we risk the wreckage of loss, where love’s gaze and love’s touch linger in our brain-muscle memories, and the once-supple cushion becomes an unwelcome abscess. At its center the festering debris of lost love—the trust with no object, the useless habits—drain the spirit. A song, a silence, a memory prompts the debilitating lapse from the now, the relentless drip, and the answerless question: how many salty tears does it take to shed the past? And from where will come the fortitude to give, to leap, and, step by step, to relearn trust? For without trust there is no field of grace. And within the field of grace, within that space where generosity and intimacy merge and mingle and overflow those boundaries we built to protect our secret selves, lies the measure of love.

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