When people don’t feel loved or for some reason believe that they are unloved it is unlikely that you will find them able to love themselves or others. Because love is behavior, it can be learned but not if it isn’t given a language to speak. A good parent makes sure that his or her children are assured that they are loved in any case. So much of love is contingent upon our parentage that it even speaks in the Bible of God being our Father. There is no greater role for a person to take on than that of being a parent and in that space of living we find out how well our own parents did in their role because we will parent the way we were parented- in spite of intentions otherwise.
– Evelyn M. Wallace
There are many types of love we will encounter in life besides that of romantic love. In truth, very few people ever experience true romantic love, anyway. If love can flourish and grow outside of everyday and uncommon drama then you will have a foundation of love much like which is described by Paul in the 13th chapter of I Corinthians in the Bible. We become better people, overall, when we find real love outside of the stereotype roles which society expects us to sustain and nurture. Those are important but they are not the entirety of love experiences which are possible for human beings.
-Evelyn M. Wallace
I must…tell you that I am the youngest of my mother’s three children, her baby. I swear that I can sense this word in her voice when she speaks to me and in her face whenever she looks at me. There is one exception: while she is making one of her angelic confessions. At this moment I become her priest, her Father. At these moments she seems totally transformed by her faith in me as God’s representative. All the sounds and sights of baby disappear.
On the night before … surgery, I heard what I thought might well be her last confession and as usual it was so saintly that for me it was an exercise in humility. At the conclusion, I assured her that I was bringing to God her sorrow and God’s forgiveness to her. To the extent of my ability to be in touch with God and with her, I felt that I must also bring her God’s message, the things I thought God would say to her at this face-to-face-with-death moment. The heart of the message I bore was this: “Thank you. Thanks for all the nights you sat up with sick children, for all the silent prayers you said for them, for all the cups of cool water you patiently poured, for all the clothes you sewed and mended, for all the sandwiches you made, for all the times…” She listened attentively and almost dutifully because I was her Father ( at that moment.)
After the absolution and final blessing of the sacramental rite, I instantly became her child again and she tenderly cupped my bent head in her hands and cradled it in a motherly way on her shoulder. She then turned her lips to my ear: “John,” she said, “don’t be sad now. Don’t be sad for me. If it isn’t tomorrow morning, it will be some other morning and if it isn’t this year, it will be some other year. Besides, Daddy’s been waiting a long time for me. I am all ready now to go meet him. And you- you have been called to a beautiful life, to do beautiful things for God and for the people you serve. If you feel sad for me, it will take your mind and heart away from your life and your work. Don’t let that happen. Don’t be sad now.” Then she kissed me.
It was like the moment after my father’s death. I was crying softly again and couldn’t talk but this time the reason for my tears was different. I had known my mother in this moment more profoundly than ever before. In a moment when she was courageously rising to the occasion of dying, a moment when people are usually reduced to what they really are, no more, no less.
As it turned out, it was not her life that God was asking. The next morning the surgeon came from the operation smiling, assuring us that the suspected cancer was not found and that the condition causing mother to feel ill was corrected. He said we could see her briefly in the intensive care unit of the hospital. There we found her conscious but cranky. My sister tried to brush back the hair which had been matted on her forehead and she complained that the brush was pulling her hair. She even complained that there was no TV in intensive care. Nothing, not even the good news that she was on the road to recovery seemed to please her. I stood off at a distance, smiling. “Go ahead, Old Girl,” my heart was saying, “let it all out. Your mind is foggy and your body hurts. And that’s the way it is in the dust and struggle of daily life. But there is one big difference now. Last night I got to know you. Beneath the words that come out of your mouth without passing through your mind or heart, beneath all the temporary, turbulent, superficial complaints you never really meant. I knew you. And I will always know something about you that will make all of these other moments seem much less important. And some day, when you really have gone to be with God and with Dad, most of all I will remember what you said to me last night, what you meant to me last night.”
As the song says, “It only takes a moment to be loved a whole life through.” I don’t know if this is literally true but I do believe that the depth and duration of a love-relationship will depend on those occasional moments of meeting called peak experiences.