it is an ever-fixed mark . . .

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I’ve had reason, lately, to be thinking much about love and how necessary to life it is, as necessary as food to eat, air to breathe. Like the unbroken thread of the Celtic triquetra knot, all love, but especially that between two people who have made a commitment to each other, is made up of not only love, but also trust, and respect. Each lobe holds within itself so many aspects and expressions: caring, compassion, concern, empathy, and ~ for lovers, especially ~ a kind of selflessness that cares more for the other’s well-being than for one’s own.

Love that not only desires and takes pleasure in, but also holds and cares for the lover when he or she is sick, and soothes and heals when he or she is sick at heart. Trust in each other so sure that, when one is confused, afraid, or doesn’t know what to do, seeking out the other, in the sure and certain knowledge of his or her complete attention and concern, is always the first action or reaction. Respect that causes each to hold him or herself to a level of honesty, fidelity, and devotion to the other that is absolute and impenetrable. Take away any one of those lobes and neither of the others can stand ~ sooner or later, the whole will collapse.

St. Paul explains it thus:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Like the thread of the triquetra, love is the one unbroken golden thread that runs through our lives, connecting us all, each to the other ~ lover to lover, parent to child, grandparents, siblings, cousins, friends ~ all are bound by that golden thread. Unhappily, it is not always smooth and bright, is indeed often tarnished and tangled in knots so complex and pulled tight they can never be undone, can never be made straight again, but must just be left as they are, the true end of the thread, beyond the tangled knot, found again and followed. Sometimes that true end is the same for both, but sadly, sometimes it is not.

“Love is not love /Which alters when it alteration finds, /Or bends with the remover to remove: /O no! it is an ever-fixed mark/That looks on tempests and is never shaken.”

Like a New England rock wall that has stood for hundreds of years, or those stone jetties that jut out into the sea of the north Atlantic coast, true love endures. Storms may rage, winds may blow, snow and ice may cover, but all those things are as ephemeral as autumn leaves, while the stones beneath, each supporting and being supported by the others, remain.

With such sorrow, I’m seeing again, among people I love, the death of what was meant to be a life-long commitment ~ because they never had that rock wall to support them. Only one of the two truly loved as both the Bible and the Bard have defined it. The other, over a long period of time and despite the patience and repeated forgiveness and determination of the one who truly loved, managed to wear that true love away, bit by bit, tiny piece by tiny piece.

The one, instead of  helping the other to build a stone wall of enduring love that would support them both, indulged in incidences large and small, of indifference, neglect, and selfishness, betrayal and abuse, one after the other after the other ~ like water dripping on a stone, each small impact pulverizing a minute part that was then washed away, until the ever-fixed mark has been all but obliterated.

I will never understand people who, for the gratification of the moment, will neglect those most essential and life-sustaining gifts of love freely given.

Everyone deserves to be loved so, and to know the over-flowing joy of truly loving that person in return. I wish it for all of you ~

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