I'm in the mood for love...or
Chocolate by any other name....
Valentine's Day is coming. It is right around the corner. A very good friend of mine shared that her church will be having a contemporary service called "The Sweetness of Life" where they celebrate the month of love...and 'chocolate'. I said "count me in"!! Unfortunately I had to leave before the service but the members of the church were ask to share their thoughts on the question, "What is love?" Since I can share thoughts from just about anywhere thanks to this internet thingy and I cannot get the question out of my mind, I will share them here.
I think everyone who has come within 2 ft of me or read anything I have ever written knows I love me some chocolate. L.O.V.E. love it! I don't know why exactly, there is just something comforting about chocolate and I also read somewhere that there is some sort of caffeine in it too that makes you feel better but too much of it is bad for you. I don't believe everything I read. So I eat chocolate when I feel the need. Moderation in everything I say. (Unless you are really stressed, then throw that saying right out the window and cuddle up with a bag of Snickers Bars.)
What is love? What does it mean to you? Well-- there is my love of chocolate, something that makes me feel better and there is my love of the Wizard of Oz that gives me illusions of grandeur --then there is another love. If you have lived long enough you have experienced it. It does not always make you feel good. Sometimes it hurts. With love comes caring and emotions and when you really and truly love someone else, if they hurt...you hurt. If they don't love you back..you hurt. If you lose them..you hurt. It is a given that anything that can bring you so much joy will have the same ability to bring you that same level of pain. From one of my favorites:
"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain." ~Kahlil Gibran-The Prophet
And so it goes. The love of a mother for a child, love for a friend, for a husband or wife, for a boyfriend or girlfriend, or for a grandchild. There are some pretty big risks involved there. So why do we keep doing it? Why are we drawn to love? I think because it is necessary to our very being. If we believe God created us in His own image and God is love...then we are love and being 'love' we have no choice but to need to love and be loved. But that doesn't really answer the question of "what IS love?"...I think it is different for every person.
I think I found out about true love when I was very young. I knew without a doubt that my family loved me unconditionally, so I probably took that for granted. But I really found out about the true meaning of 'love' from my older brother Dwayne. He was the second oldest in our family, born with severe birth defects, he never walked or talked, never took a bite of food that someone did not give him. Never held a spoon or a fork, never placed both twisted feet on the floor, never spoke a clear word and never contributed anything to this world other than 'being Dwayne". But he touched more people and said more with his eyes, smiles,or frowns than most do or say in a lifetime.
Dwayne could not change or affect his surroundings, he was dependent on those who loved him and would care for him for everything he needed his entire 24 years of life. If he was hurting from being in one position too long, he could not verbally tell us that...we had to watch him carefully, look at his eyes and see what they were saying. He could make some noises of approval and disapproval but we had to pay close attention to him to make sure he was okay. So I learned to listen...not to words spoken..but to actions.
He loved everyone and always tried to have a smile on his face, but he would get angry just like anyone else. If someone raised their voice, or he thought anyone was being mean to someone else or if an animal was being treated unkindly you could see his eyebrows rise and the look of angst in his eyes that could immediately put an end to any situation. So I learned to speak up when needed and to take up for others no matter what.
There was nothing wrong with Dwayne mentally, he was just trapped in a body that could not do the things he would have loved to do. So he felt all the emotions we felt, the frustrations, the anger and the helplessness. Some people were a little afraid of him and it was hard for them to look at someone who seemed so pitiful, deformed and different. It didn't bother him, he loved everyone because he saw them from a different perspective. So I learned to look at people in a different way and accept them for what they are not what I expect them to be.
Most people simply 'loved' Dwayne. He could not do a thing for them, he had no money to give, no compliments or flattery, no jokes to make them laugh and not even arms capable of giving them a hug. But they loved him very much. He touched everyone in a special way who took the time to visit with him and they would never forget that experience. He changed lives, without all the words, actions, or theatrics. He changed lives and made an impression through unconditional love. Love that demands nothing in return. Open and honest love without selfish motives. It was love in its purest form. So I have seen 'love' through the eyes of my brother and once you have done that..you can never forget that we are all here to very simply--love one another.
I am sure Mama Bess and Daddy Frank must have questioned God at some point after Dwayne was born. When he went through 6 months of nothing but severe pain and cries of anguish. But they never mentioned it to us. We thought everyone must have a special brother like our brother. One that reminded you of what true love was every day. So we all learned that every human being has a worth that cannot be measured by what they accomplish in life but by how much they love those around them.
I am so thankful that I was asked once again to remind myself of that kind of love and how very lucky I was to have experienced it at such an early age. When Dwayne passed away, there were tears of sadness but there was also a celebration of his life and my prayer is that the celebration of that simplistic, unselfish and unconditional love will be with all of you--this Valentine's Day and every day.
Love and a bag of Hershey's Kisses to you all~ Squirrely Girl