Of all arguments against love none makes so strong an appeal to my nature as 'Careful! This might lead you to suffering.' ... When I respond to that appeal I seem to myself to be a thousand miles away from Christ. If I am sure of anything I am sure that His teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities. I doubt whether there is anything in me that pleases Him less.
When I took my first job out of law school, I found myself for the first time with a 401k to manage and sitting in front of a financial adviser asking me the foreign yet primary philosophical question of my existence, "Would you like a low, moderate, or high risk of investment?" You see, in life, there will be risk. The only question is how much we will risk, how brave we will be. There are more grievous sins in this life than cowardice. Like foolishness. The foolishness of believing that we can have one attitude toward Eros and our fellow human beings without having that attitude affect our relationship with God. How can we ever lead ourselves to believe that we could take some safe route, low-risk strategy toward love in this life while expecting to be united to Love Himself in the next?
If a man is not uncalculating towards the earthly beloveds whom he has seen, he is none the more likely to be so towards God whom he has not. We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it.
A survey of the biblical narrative leaves one thoroughly convinced that the story of human existence is the Love Story, the one of which all the Dear Johns and Valentine's Days of the world are but faint and imperfect shadows. The mystery to which Saint Paul referred to as the fated marriage of Christ and his bride, the Church. Love did not pursue us carefully but recklessly from the Garden of Eden to the Garden of Gethsemane, from Mount Sinai to Mount Calvary.
We should not turn our backs on Saint Valentine's Day. It is truly a holy day. And in this world of hate, we could use a few more days to celebrate Love.
(This installment is a second excerpt from my future book, How to Date an Unattainable Woman and Other Things I Don't Know. Previously excerpted here.)