What does love mean?

Love ? I love love love you.

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What does love mean? We talk about love all the time, but rarely do we sit down and think about what it is…

Love is action; it is in the things we do and the way we act with one another. It means letting people see you for who you truly are. Love is not in the Hollywood-scripted gestures and long poetic speeches we have come to know from movies and fairy tale stories. Sure, William Shakespeare wrote a large collection of lovely sonnets (many of which I quite like) and the people at Hallmark admittedly have a way of putting some heartfelt sentiments together– but those can’t convey our love the way we can through our own words, or our own actions as we feel the moments, as they come, with the people we love. Love is raw and vulnerable; it is not planned or packaged. When my fiance proposed to me, he didn’t orchestrate fireworks, nor did he rent a beaming billboard or hire a choir of singers. He got nervous, he fidgeted, and he may have started to sweat a little. The confidence that usually surrounds him like an invisible shield was suddenly absent and I saw him peeled back until he was raw and vulnerable; like it might be possible to actually look inside him and see his heart beating, and watch the blood pumping furiously to his arteries. When he knelt before me, time hung suspended before me and I was conscious of the beats of my own heart. When he said he didn’t have anything prepared; no long poem or big speech– but he did know he wanted to spend his life with me, and would I like that too? I unfurled myself in to a puddle of tears. The ring was too tight and the day was suddenly suffocatingly hot and I am not sure how long I cried before he worried that I had no intention of saying yes. I cried because it was nothing like anything I had seen before, it was our moment. It was as real as he is every day. That’s love.

“Love is not a victory march./ It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.”

As I was thinking of writing this post today, I broke for my daily walk. On some days I take my iPod for company and others I enjoy the quiet. Today I took the ear buds. As I neared home, Leonard Cohen’s song, “Hallelujah” shuffled in to play. That line from the song has always hung itself out for my attention. It came clearer in to focus today as I thought about love. Love isn’t simply finding someone. I feel as if those dating website commercials on TV make it seem that way. You can fill out all of their special forms and they will find you your perfect match; and there you have it: love, the victory march. You can change your Facebook status to “in a relationship”, and it will lead to all of the inevitable markers of marriage, children, and happily ever after. No. Love has more bumps than that. It is not a fairy tale ending; this boy meets girl story; but rather you have to get in to the real work of knowing someone else deeply; tolerating their habits (good and bad); integrating your families; accepting your points of view (when the align and when they differ) and face the world and its messiness together. You have to fight for each other and with each other and steel yourself against all that tests you. Only then, can you rejoice in the hallelujahs. I’m not a football fan, but my fiance is, he shared this piece of wisdom from NFL player Marshall Faulk (who credits the advice from his father): “On life’s road, if there are no speed bumps, you’re headed for a dead end.” I like my bumpy road, especially when I have someone I really love to take the wheel once and a while.

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