Why yes, my Valentine’s Day post is about love!
After all, ’tis the season for love- at least according to all of the florists and chocolatiers.
‘Love’ seems to become very tangible on February 14th. It comes cloaked in gifts and meals, in little cards or wide-eyed stuffed animals.
During the rest of the year ‘love’ becomes more vague- harder to pin down. The word is amorphous enough to apply to the man I’m spending my life with, and also to my favorite purple sneakers.
I do love my native tongue, but I find it interesting how much more clearly ‘love’ is described in other languages.
No, I can’t claim to be multi-lingual. I wish I could. I made it through my two years of Latin and Spanish, but unfortunately I’ve lost so much that I might be able to carry on a conversation with a very quiet three-year-old, provided she wanted to talk about ‘queso’ and practice counting. However, I’m a pastor’s kid, and a smattering of Biblical Greek stuck, in particular some of the various words detailing (you guessed it!) types of love.
Ancient Greek had numerous specific words that all translate to ‘love’ in English. A couple of them are easy to recognize.
For instance, “eros” is the root for ‘erotic.’ Need I say more?
Philadelphia gets its name from the Greek word “philos”, and its nickname is based on the meaning: the City of Brotherly Love. (Just don’t look up the crime rates…or so I’ve heard.)
The third is trickier: “agape.” (Ah-gah-pay, rather than the ‘opened mouth’ pronunciation. I once saw a dentist office called “Agape Dental.” I wonder which pronunciation they were going for?)
Agape love is the love of self-sacrifice. It is love that gives, regardless of whether the object of the love is deserving. It’s love in action. (Going back to my first encounter with the word, it’s used consistently in the New Testament to describe the relationship between God and humankind.)
While the other types of love can be invaluable in stories, including some ‘agape’ can deepen and strengthen the relationships between characters. When they show unselfish love- love that gives rather than takes- it’s so outside the realm of the typical that, when written well, it’s unforgettable.
After all, to take a few examples from varied genres, Sam didn’t have to accompany Frodo into Mordor. Mr. Darcy didn’t stand to gain by secretly aiding the family of a girl who’d as good as spit in his face. Atticus Finch wasn’t forced to risk his reputation and family’s safety to defend an innocent man.
They chose to do it anyway, and those stories hold a place of honor as some of my favorites.
In real life, I think of the nights when my husband, weary from another overtime shift, rejoins the family to be pulled in three different directions by our children. I can tell that he’s longing for quiet, but he puts it aside. He talks to them, plays with them, listens to their exploits. I think of the nights when he sees the crazy in my eyes, and he sends me away for alone time in his place.
That’s love that doesn’t fit into a chocolate box.
Do you have any stories of love in action, in self-sacrifice, that you’d like to recommend? I always love new books to read!
Thanks for visiting!
BONUS: Fellas, if you’re celebrating today but can’t figure out what she really wants, Tim Hawkins has the answer. 🙂