Friday, June 15, 2012

The Greatest Love of All

            Once upon a time, a girl noticed a fine young man busy observing her. She blushed and so did he. When he finally summoned his courage, he invited her to join him at the annual Valentine’s Day dance. She accepted.

            He brought a pretty carnation corsage for her to wear on her wrist; she handed him a carnation boutonniere. Being young, they couldn’t look at each other long without blushing so each looked away while attending to their flower accessory. Each said “thank you” and then found no other words for the moment. Finally, he said, “Well, my dad’s in the car so we can go.” She nodded.

            Over time and several Valentine’s Days together, they discovered how much they had in common. They liked basketball; he played for the high school. He learned to spot an “off-sides” call in soccer while attending her games. They both excelled as learners and made plans to attend the same college where they advanced beyond holding hands and kissing. They became intimate, and those were giddy days indeed.

            While apart, they daydreamed of their time together. While together, they thought of nothing and no one else besides each other. He grew more generous, remembering special days with a rose or two; she noticed what he liked and left the right kind of protein bar on his desk when he had to study. She edited his essays, and he hers.

            By the time they were seniors in college, she wore a diamond on her left hand, and they sent out “Save the Date” cards for a June wedding. She looked more beautiful than ever before as she walked toward him, a veil softening her face, in her hands a bouquet that included the same carnation he’d given her on their first date. In the buttonhole of his tux was the same carnation he’d worn for that first dance.

            Their honeymoon was a cross-country trek to a job he’d landed. She soon had one, too, and they began to build their futures. They learned to give and take with their wants and needs. She needed a new car; he needed a set of golf clubs. She sacrificed new clothes until they could buy clubs for him. He carried sack lunches in order to make the car payment. They became a team, partners, and lovers, a family of two--two people in love, but friends, too.

            He shared his challenges at work, and she listened. When she received an unbeatable job offer, he left his behind even though he was on an upward trajectory, but when she became pregnant, he found an even better offer for himself so that she could stay home if that’s what she wanted and they decided to do.

They shared the work load of home, yard and children, but sometimes she rose early on Saturdays, letting him sleep while she did one of his chores and her own. He often returned the favor.

            Through those early years when they saved and shaped their futures, those middle years as they raised a family, and those later years when they were the only two in that big, fine home, they were best friends and romantic partners. But something else occurred. Their love approached the divine.

            Without even discussing it, they agreed not to look too closely at Time’s stamp upon their bodies. She learned not to complain about the clutter he left in his wake, and he never mentioned the noise she made chewing ice. When he had a brush with a serious illness, she scaled back her outside activities and cared for him until he was strong once more. When he flirted shamelessly with the check-out gal at the grocery store even though his beloved wife stood next to him, she forgave him and never mentioned it again. He never flirted again either.

            Most important of all, in their quiet moments, they remembered to be grateful. He wasn’t perfect; she didn’t pretend to be. Still, they were blessed. They had been cherished and loved all their days in spite of imperfections. They had been given deep affection and understanding. They knew that few receive such a perfect gift.

My story serves to illustrate familial love, discussed on June 1; erotic or romantic love, explained on June 8; and divine love, illustrated today. Divine or selfless or godlike love is the third major category of love and a literary motif; it is a love that forgives, that is given freely, and that conquers obstacles in its path. Friends may give and receive divine love. Lovers may also.

Reading Challenge:

Re-read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116. It’s available at under the heading, “Sonnet 116 William Shakespeare *with text.” As you read and listen, consider the imagery that describes divine love.

In addition, consider some of your favorite characters in love. Can you identify divine love in their actions and relationships?

Writing Challenge:

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person” (Mignon McLoughlin).

Reflect upon Ms. McLoughlin’s declaration, then write your thoughts.

GUM (Grammar, Usage and Mechanics):

A huge wreath of carnations surrounded the base of the wedding cake. After the wedding reception, friends and family wreathed the happy couple and wished them well as they made their way to the limousine.

A wreath (noun) is a circular display of flowers or vines, often hung over a fireplace mantle or on the front entry door whereas wreathe (verb) means to surround or encircle.

For example, low-growing shrubbery may surround or wreathe an outdoor fountain. Or, well-wishers and family members may wreathe or surround a sick person lying in a hospital bed.