Unconditionally addicted to love
June 9, 2005
A few years ago, while talking with my old English professor about a book of poetry he'd written, the subject turned toward a love poem. I confessed to being confounded by all the different kinds of love that seem to exist in the world: romantic love, platonic love, self-love, brotherly love, and on and on. He looked at me with the eye of a teacher concerned that he'd loosed on the world a student lacking an elemental understanding about the universe.
"There is only one kind of love," he said. "Unconditional love."
All other kinds of love are not love, he said.
I knew he was right without comprehending why.
Rumi, the Sufi poet, says the same thing about this powerful force in a different way:
"By love what is bitter becomes sweet,
bits of copper turn to gold.
By love the dregs are made clear,
and pain begins to heal.
By love the dead come alive,
and a king becomes a slave."
I asked DC, Do you think we love each other unconditionally? Yes, she said, except late the other night when the glass of water you knocked off the bedside table broke into thousands of pieces.
She didn't love me unconditionally that night.
Actually, DC suspects that unconditional love is Jesus' turf and that the rest of us have little hope of experiencing it.
Rumi: "Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."
Last weekend DC and I went to a music festival that honored a friend who died earlier this year. Randy was a fine musician, and the festival was his friends' way of remembering him with music and of raising money for a scholarship to be endowed in his name.
The day was bittersweet. The park glowed in shades of emerald. The music moved some to dance. At the end, Randy's sons and his wife got up on the stage and played music together, just like they did with Randy when the boys were younger.
"God turns you from one feeling to another and teaches by means of opposites," Rumi said, "so that you will have two wings to fly, not one."
Lots of people felt unconditional about their love for Randy. Maybe his friendliness broke down those barriers. Maybe he connected with us through sharing a love for music. If you played music, you were his friend. If you cared about music, same thing.
Randy wrote poetry, too, the kind that goes best with a back beat. In one song he wondered "where the good ones go when their song is through, with only echoes left to hold on to.
"They used to rock my world -- singing sweet and low
And I pray someday I'll find
Where the good ones go."
Sam Blackwell is the managing editor of the Southeast Missourian.