I remember an occasion, many years ago, when I was sitting under some trees, hidden from everybody, on a windy afternoon. I was cold but didn’t want to go indoors. I wanted my own company. I was feeling miserable. I was feeling lonely. I had said goodbye to some very dear friends and didn’t know when I would see them again. I was feeling homesick. That afternoon, I just wanted someone who was there for me and had found nobody. It wasn’t as though there were any major problems that I was facing. That afternoon I just needed the company of someone who was a friend and with whom I could simply relax.
That’s probably an experience that each of us faces at some stage in our lives. That particular afternoon, as I was feeling sorry for myself, I started to make a mental list of the names of my friends. What surprised me was that, until that moment, I’d not realised just how many friends I had. Gradually, instead of feeling cold and miserable, I began to feel warm inside. As I thought of each of my friends, I saw their faces within my memory. Gradually I stopped noticing that it was a cold day. I felt warm inside. I felt loved as I remembered all the people whom I loved.
Each of us is born with a basic need to be loved. If we are not loved, our hearts shrivel and die. Of course, when we are small babies, we think that we are the centre of the whole world. We cry and someone feeds us. We cry a bit more and we’ll be given a clean nappy or a cuddle. People bigger than we are will carry us around and will talk to us and play with us. We somehow feel that everybody who sees us, loves us.
Gradually we grow out of being a baby. We look around our world and start playing with other children. We attend school and discover that the world is far bigger than any of us ever imagined. We also begin to realise that we have a great deal to learn if we are to take an active role in the society in which we live….but we still need to be loved.
Many years ago there was a song, “Love Makes the World Go Around”. I can’t remember the tune, but I do remember asking my mother why love is important and that was the answer she gave: “Love makes the world go around.”
There was a young student whom I used to see regularly. One day, there was a complete transformation. Suddenly he was tidy. He was confident. He was smiling and polite instead of grumbling and rude. I asked someone what had happened. The student had a girlfriend. He had found someone who loved him and whom he loved. Love had changed everything for the young man. Loving and being loved had made him realise that life was worth living.
Whom do I love? Who is the most important person in my life? What is the difference that has been made in my own life by loving and being loved? What would happen if that person were to be taken out of my life? How would I survive? Love asks many questions, but it also provides many answers. As the song says, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
When we love and are loved, there is always a third person in the relationship: God.
Lord, you are the love of my life and the life of my love. Thank you for all the special people whom you have placed on my path through life. Thank you for the magic of love. Thank you for the difference that love makes in my life and in the lives of those around me. Lord, you are Love. I love you. Amen