What is Love?
Estragon: Don’t touch me! Don’t question me! Don’t speak to me! Stay with me!
Vladimir: Did I ever leave you?
Estragon: You let me go.
The above dialogue is from Samuel Beckett’s play, Waiting for Godot. Love is an abiding presence. It is not merely about not leaving; it is also about not letting the beloved go. Love is a binding force. But at the same time it is a liberating force too. Love binds you with a chain and at the same time it liberates you more than anything else ever can.
There is a scene in the classic book, The Little Prince. A fox approaches the Little Prince with a strange request. “Tame me,” the fox says. “What is taming?” The Little Prince asks. “Taming means to establish ties,” explains the fox. When you tame me, you become responsible for me. Every loving relationship is the embrace of a tremendous responsibility.
When the fox wanted to be tamed, it was seeking a place in the Prince’s heart. It longed for the Prince’s attention, an investment of time by the Prince. When I love you, I invest myself in you. You become special because of my love.
One of the most striking descriptions of love can be found in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13). You may be the best orator in the world, able to move the mountains with the power of your eloquence, but if you do not have love in your heart you are only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal, says Paul. You may be a scholar, prophet, mass leader, but if you are not guided by love you are as hollow as a blown-up balloon.
Love makes all the difference. Love is a miracle. It can transmute any reality. Love can breathe life into a granite statue. It can make the reed in the wilderness sing melodiously. Love can transform horrendous ugliness into sublime beauty.
In the words of the biblical Paul, love is patient and kind. It does not envy, does not boast, it is not proud. It never dishonours the others. It is not self-seeking, not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always persevered.”
Love bears a burden insofar as it has to protect, trust, hope and persevere. Love bears a burden insofar as it is the taking of responsibility for the other. But it never feels any burden. Because where there is love, there are no burdens. There is only love. There is no leaving; there is no letting go.
PS. Written for Indispire Edition 398: Love bears a burden and feels no burden. Your reflection on it in the form of an essay or poem or whatever. #LoveBurden