At our Christmas Eve service last night, the sermon was about love. The priest began with a list of definitions of the word, definitions given by children. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a source for this list but I was permitted to take it home to share with you.
Have you noticed that children get to the essence of a defintion by way of example rather than using a synonym? Most philosophers would agree with their method.
In the children’s responses listed below the fold, you will see love as newness, as sacrifice, fidelity, forgiveness, and listening. Perhaps most important of all, the experience that love drives out fear.
Also notice that Afonso’s example, which I added from the comments, touches on the heart’s anticipation and expectation of love’s arrival, and Old Atlantic Lighthouse gives us an example of love as courage in the face of evil.
So here’s the list from the kids, i.e., “love is when…”
– – – – – – – – –
- Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French Fries without making them give you any of theirs.
- Love is that first feeling you have before all the bad stuff gets in the way.
- When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis, too. That’s love.
- Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.
- Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other that well.
- Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.
- When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know your name is safe in their mouth.
- When you tell someone something bad about yourself and you’re scared they won’t love you anymore. But then you get surprised because not only do they still love you, they love you even more.
- Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.
- Love is when you’re waiting for someone to arrive just for their sheer presence – Afonso
- Love is when you tell the truth even though you know you will be called racist and the same mistake will continue anyhow – Old Atlantic Lighthouse.
One time I said to a foster child who was sorrowing about his neglectful and in some ways embarrassing father, “there’s no law that says you have to love him”. I thought this response would allow some distance for him, a bit less pain. The boy thought for a moment and then shook his head. “The law in my heart says I must,” he told me. So much for my cold comfort to a ten year-old.
May the love that you’ve known in the past, or the love you experience now be your comfort and joy.
I wish all of our readers bounteous love, from wherever it may come, and the good sense to see it when it’s right in front of you (that can be most difficult sometimes).
If anyone has some more examples of love, I’d be most pleased to add them to the children’s list of “Love is When…”
For me, love is when you can just let Christmas be Christmas without having to make it something else. For that understanding, arrived at so painfully, I am most grateful and happy.
Love is when you’re happy to be here.