In every human being there is an insatiable need to love and to be loved. Yesterday, sitting on the deck and listening to music, I heard Bette Midler’s song, “The Rose.” The lyrics, attempting to define love, linger in my mind this morning.
Some say love, it is a river that drowns the tender reed,
Some say love, it is a razor that leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say love, it is a hunger, an endless aching need,
I say love, it is a flower and you its only seed.”
Then, the song goes on to suggest that in spite of the endless aching need each of us have to love and to be loved we are afraid of the risks:
It’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance.
It’s the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance.
It’s the one who won’t be taken, who cannot seem to give,
and the soul afraid of dyin’ that never learns to live.
In a sense, the lyrics are saying that in order to love and to be loved, one must always be “letting go.” “Letting go” is loving. Love means being susceptible to heartaches and learning to dance. Love is willing to dream and to take a chance. Love is being willing to give and thus to live. “Letting go” is the nature of and the requirement of love. If we really love a person, we will free him or her to follow a path that is not our path, to hold opinions that are different from our own, to have friends that are not our friends. Loving is not clinging to the beloved. Love is, as Anne Lindbergh wrote:
Him that I love, I wish to be
Even from me.
Don’t we do this with our children? We love them deeply, but there comes a time when we must let them go. To be a loving parent is to let our children go to forge their own way on the path of life. We do not love them less—indeed, “letting [them] go,” setting them free, we love them more.
Now if God is Love, what does this Love, this “letting go” on God’s part mean for us? If, as I often say, “Love is at the heart of all things” how does it work? Love is here, Love is everywhere, surrounding us in every situation and circumstance. But in this Love we are not controlled or held on a leash. Love’s aim, Love’s purpose, Love’s very essence is to set us free even from Love itself. “The only creature that can love is the creature free not to love” (Verna Dozier). Human beings were created free! Love gives that—Love “lets us go”—but forever Loves.