When we think of love, we most often consider it as a strong emotion, relational, volitional, a mystery. All of that is true, and yet it is so much more.
Recently Sid and I watched a great movie “Florence Foster Jenkins” starring Merryl Streep (how can it be bad?!) as a 1920s to ’40s New York socialite who fancied herself as a great operatic soprano. Throughout most of Ms. Jenkins’ career her loving companion would make sure that the audiences for which she performed were friends who could support the illusion that she was a great singer. Each of her actually comedic performances were met with “bravos” and applause which seemed to be for her amazing voice. That was until her final performance which was booked at Carnegie Hall, a venue way too large for her loving partner to rig. The morning after the show as Ms. Jenkins reads the truth in a scathing review, she is deeply stricken and dies shortly thereafter.
Ms. Jenkins had contracted syphilis at the age of 19 from her husband and lived without debilitating symptoms until her death at age 76. Especially during those days, that was a medical miracle. When she was made aware that her voice was horrid, her body no longer could be sustained by the love that had kept her alive those many years by the work of her companion and friends, and she perished. Such was the force of that love.
My mother died in February 1999, six months after being diagnosed with stage IV cancer. During that time before her death she moved in with my family and she and I spent hours together. Every Sunday we would have manicures and lunch at her favorite restaurant. The Sunday before she died we did our usual routine, but on the way home she became very ill so we went to the hospital. When the doctors saw her scan they said her body was now riddled with cancer throughout and that obviously she had been bed ridden for months. They could not believe that just the day before we had been out to lunch and at the spa. Within just days my mother died as her body became in touch with the reality of its condition, it having been fortified all those months with the power of love.
So too my sweet pug Dodi with cancer who is being kept alive with love, going strong ten months after the prognosis of having two months to live. So too the power of a mother’s love, and a broken heart, as Debbie Reynolds, the mother of Carrie Fisher (Star Wars’ Princess Leia) dies the day after her daughter’s death.
Just as love is a power of good beyond measure and explanation, hate can be equally as strong as a force of destruction. Our Abba’s love is the creative force He not only works through us in our interactions, but is that with which He created us and sustains us. Every baby is born with sweetness in its essence, goodness, trust, acceptance, and unless needing something or in pain, instinctively smiles as it sees another. The essence of each of us is love. It is a force beyond measure that is designed to grow as we grow and nurture us and others. It is only life’s challenges and the workings of the evil one that mankind’s story is so troubled. And it is that struggle, between love and hate, good and evil, that is the job of mankind to work out in this realm. For from those works, we learn the lessons He teaches of why we need to live our loves powered by love, so that those who come next will be even more loving.
May the force be with you.