This is a beautiful reading – so beautiful that I’ve probably heard it at every wedding I’ve ever been to! But love is not just for lovers anymore, says the nun, and this can apply in all our love relationships.
I am moved by the description of what love is: patient and kind, enduring, hoping, and bearing all things, never-failing and always-remaining. It’s too much to put on a Valentine’s Day conversation heart, but it’s what I want love to look like in my life.
I also resonate with what love is not – boastful, jealous, quick-tempered, brooding over injury, seeking its own interests. I might add that love does not lie, manipulate, smear us behind our backs, judge, or wound. I relate because I’ve experienced all these things in relationships that are supposed to be loving, and I’m sure I’ve done some of these to people I love too. Ugh! Why do we experience the "love-is-not-s” with people we love – spouses, partners, family members, friends, and community? Is it that we don’t know how to love?
Well, sometimes people actually don't love the ones they say they do. I know what it feels like to be told I’m loved but then experience manipulation and hurt. The ones we love the most can hurt us the most, and when things get truly toxic in a relationship, when we are being used rather than loved, we need to stop “believing all things” and “hoping all things.” In that case, it’s time to love ourselves, seek healing, and turn to those who genuinely do love us.
Aside from unhealthy relationships, though, the reality is that none of us loves without flaw. Maybe the reason for that lies in the second part of this reading: “At present I know partially; then, I shall know fully, as I am fully known.” Like our knowing, our love is only partial, at least in this life. God is the fullness of love – patient, kind, enduring, and bearing all things. People, though, are not the fullness of God. We just can’t love completely, like God does. We are still-on-the-way when it comes to learning to love, and loving well takes practice. People do have moments when we reflect that divine love, and that’s a beautiful thing. It gives me great hope, and helps me to keep trying.
I believe that the more we open ourselves to the tender, all-encompassing love that God offers, the more we can love others well. So, I try to open myself to love, and stay in the struggle, because love is worth it.
And I trust. At present I love partially, but someday I will love fully, as I am fully loved.
By Sister Leslie Keener, CDP