The truth about love was hidden in the faux grains of laminate flooring as I, wracked with fever, crawled towards the bed my toddler son had just vomited in.
The truth about love lay deep within the folded skin of my mother’s hands as she helped me pack up my ex-husband’s belongings in tan Home Depot boxes.
The truth about love hung heavy in the air of the fellowship hall kitchen, where kind church members prepared a meal for the vast family that had descended onto Abilene for my grandmother’s funeral.
The truth about love glimmered in the setting sun’s last rays of light as I stood on the beach with my new husband.
The truth about love is that it demands context to take real shape. The poets and bards of every age have stretched language and birthed metaphor after metaphor in attempt to give love flesh. But abstractions only serve us temporarily; words just won’t get to the heart of love.
Love, in the end, must indeed have flesh to be love. Or to say it another way, love is only revealed in the midst of other emotion, of other circumstance.
I tell my son every day that I love him, but I LOVE him when I crawl up onto his top bunk to hold him while he throws up into the sick bucket.
I tell my husband that I love him, but I LOVE him when provide a safe place for him to share his hopes and frustrations.
I tell my congregation that I love them, but I LOVE them when I stand with them by gravesides and hospital beds and wedding receptions.
There is no such thing as love out of real-world context. Which is why, I imagine, God eventually showed up in the form of an infant in Bethlehem. God, the first poet, the Singer of the Song of Creation, stretched the bounds of language and metaphor and then crossed the threshold of transcendence.
This is the foundation of our faith, is it not? That love was made flesh? That was why the writer of the Epistles of John could say, with conviction, “God is love.”
I, like many of you, will most likely buy a valentine’s card for my beloved ones in the coming weeks. I may even pen a poem for the handsome man I share my life and bed with.
But the truth about love is that it demands an existence beyond the notes and letters we string together between us. True love rises from within the tangible moments of our shared lives.
In these days and beyond, may all of your loves be true. May your love have heft, have scent, be brilliant as the sun, may it chime like the stars of the heavens.
May your love be made flesh.
Rev Elizabeth Grasham is the Solo Pastor of Heights Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Houston, TX. She is a mother, a minister, a geek, and has very firm opinions in the Star Trek vs Star Wars argument.