The Book of Love

Love is a skill. We’re all still learning. Here are some things I’ve picked up along the way.

Reflections on love:

  • Read The Four Loves.
  • David Takle: “The truth is that our deepest longing is to be fully known and fully loved at the same time.”
  • Chesterton: “The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.”
  • Dostoevsky: “Brothers, love is a teacher, but one must know how to acquire it, for it is difficult to acquire, it is dearly bought, by long work over a long time, for one ought to love not for a chance moment but for all time. Anyone, even a wicked man, can love by chance.”
  • Lewis: “There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
  • “Love is … attachment. It hurts like hell, but it’s healthy.”
  • Chesterton: “I wish we could sometimes love the characters in real life as we love the characters in romances. There are a great many human souls whom we should accept more kindly, and even appreciate more clearly, if we simply thought of them as people in a story.”
  • Barclay: “There is a certain extravagance in love. The alabaster phial of perfume was meant to be used drop by drop; it was meant to last for years, perhaps even a life-time; but in a moment of utter devotion, the woman poured it on the head of Jesus. Love does not stop nicely to calculate the less or more; love does not stop to work out how little it can respectably give. With a kind of divine extravagance, love gives everything it has and never counts the cost. Calculation is never any part of love.”
  • Lewis: “Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness.”
  • Vanier: “While we are alone, we could believe we loved everyone. Now that we are with others, living with them all the time, we realise how incapable we are of loving, how much we deny to others, how closed in on ourselves we are.”
  • Chesterton: “Love is not blind; that is the last thing that it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind.”
  • Lewis: “God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them.”
  • Chesterton: “Stated baldly, charity certainly means one of two things—pardoning unpardonable acts, or loving unlovable people.”

On love in general:

On love and friendship:

  • “A good friend is someone with whom you can be completely quiet, and it’s not awkward, not even one bit.”
  • But also: There is always time to talk.

On love of country:

  • Hugo: “So long as you go and come in your native land, you imagine that those streets are a matter of indifference to you; that those windows, those roofs, and those doors are nothing to you; that those walls are strangers to you; that those trees are merely the first encountered haphazard; that those houses, which you do not enter, are useless to you; that the pavements which you tread are merely stones. Later on, when you are no longer there, you perceive that the streets are dear to you; that you miss those roofs, those doors; and that those walls are necessary to you, those trees are well beloved by you; that you entered those houses which you never entered, every day, and that you have left a part of your heart, of your blood, of your soul, in those pavements. All those places which you no longer behold, which you may never behold again, perchance, and whose memory you have cherished, take on a melancholy charm, recur to your mind with the melancholy of an apparition, make the holy land visible to you, and are, so to speak, the very form of France, and you love them; and you call them up as they are, as they were, and you persist in this, and you will submit to no change: for you are attached to the figure of your fatherland as to the face of your mother.”