Friday, May 30, 2008

on love

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments; love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no, it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved

- William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116

Sometimes God really annoys me. Because He so often points the finger directly at me when I am frustrated with another. I tend to run, it's easier. I like to look at obstacles as walls rather than hurdles. I like to see bumps as mountains. I like to solve things with my own power. I see these traits as I do them, but it doesn't make it easier to stop. I open "Return of the Prodigal Son" a book by Henri Nouwen written about the Rembrandt painting, which sits on my nightstand. It's the most profound and poetic book on explaining the Christian faith in its entirety. Explaining the love of the Father for both the prodigal - the partying proud son who rejects the Father altogether but comes back in tatters, humbly asking his Father to accept him - and the elder who never left the Father yet stands judgmental over at the Father's love of the prodigal son. I've written about this book before on this blog. The painting shows both the masculine muscular strong hand of the Father and a more feminine hand, which Nouwen believes represents the feminine side of God.

Luke 15: 11-32

Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.

After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'

But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's
have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.

Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.

But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'

'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'

Nouwen shows that we may relate more to one or another character but ultimately we are all three characters. We have all been the prodigal, we have all been the judgmental elder son, and ultimately we are called to become like the Father - though we will never become God we are called to become like God. So I open my book and start reading about the elder son. There was me doing exactly what I was doing. And then I saw Nouwen quoting "love is not love
which alters when it alteration finds" and yet not saying who said it, I google it to find it is Shakespeare's most famous love sonnet.

No comments: