Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Divinity of Love

I don't think I understood love until very recently.  Of course, that's one of those things you can say at any point in your life and its basically true- things like "If only I'd known five years ago what I know now..." or "You kids have things so much better than back in my day..." or "Man, I really hate the Celtics" (or is that just me?)

While I'm sure there's a good chance I'll say the same in a few more years, I do think it's fair to say that I have an expanded view of love from what I knew even just a few months ago. Specifically, I've experienced a new side of love: loss.

In the interest of maintaining continuity with this blog's tag line, I need to stop here and be honest for a second.  I have experienced loss before.  I lost God.  And I truly did experience real and poignant emotions.  But it felt rather more like I was betrayed, left behind by someone that never really loved me in the first place (or in this case, never existed).  It is quite a different feeling than losing someone tangible, someone you know beyond a shadow of a doubt exists, someone you still love, and someone who, at one point, loved you too.  Rather, you can't still love what you don't believe exists, so at some point my feelings towards God ceased to be of longing and rather transformed into a dull annoyance at the mention of his name (at one point I was de-friending anyone who posted a Bible verse that showed up in my Facebook newsfeed).  But I digress; examining my feelings at the loss of God is not the point of this post.

Trying to describe lost love is sort of the universal challenge to all artists.  Nobody's done it justice yet- it's something you have to feel to understand, just like any other aspect of love.

And that, I suppose, is the point of this post.  When I feel love- in any aspect, whether fulfilled, scorned, failed, exciting, or uncertain- I can't help but think that its not a natural process.  That is, it is not just biological.  It feels, it pulls, it registers so deeply that I can't help but think it something more than a human invention.

Hormones are powerful things.  They turn the teen from a little angel into a smelly, angry, rebellious little devil, they turn the strong weak, and they turn the weak strong.  And perhaps that's all love really is.  A release of chemicals, a flood of uppers or downers, all meant to trick our bodies into taking whatever action is necessary to pass on our genetic code.

But monogamy tells me otherwise.  The fact that love persists past the opportunity of procreation tells me otherwise.  The true attachment, the desire for another person's wellbeing that you happily place above your own tells me otherwise.

I don't think I'm making an argument for anything specific here; I realize that love can be explained both biologically and evolutionarily- at least adequately enough so as to not require a religious explanation.  Mostly I'm just saying that love is either a supremely impressive fiction, or its a pointer toward something much more impressive.  I suppose I would like to say that the existence of love, while by no means sufficient to prove the existence of a God, is at least positive circumstantial evidence; the existence of love is something I would very much expect in a world with a God, but very much not expect in a world absent a God.

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