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Definitions of love

By Ernesto Tinajero

Any definition of love has to be descriptive and not prescriptive. Love exists before our words try to capture the meaning of love. The current popular definitions of love, such as unconditional love or tough love, do little justice for the reality of love. They sound good, and like the thought of eating Easter chocolate eggs all the time, it gives us pleasure. But, after we grow obese, lethargic and our teeth are rotted out, we find that, indeed, a diet of Easter chocolate eggs lacks the nutrition we need to live. We need Easter spirit more than Easter chocolate. So it is with unconditional love. It sounds good, but a steady diet of accepting the desires in ourselves and others leads not to love, but to indifference. It rots the spirit and makes us less loving, not more. Unconditional love makes us the God of our own world.

That is not to say conditional love is any better. Conditional love goes by the sweet sounding name of tough love, but it too just disguises disgust and a certain desire for power over another under the name of love. Tough love wants to be god of another. In both unconditional love and conditional love the problem arises in failure to describe the reality of love because each definition tries to locate love in the individual rather than in the bond between the individual, others and the world. Both false notions of love reject the social nature of human beings and by making the individual a god of his own world and ruler of even the most important of all forces in the universe: love. Yet, love is not ours to own for to try to posses it is to lose it. Love flows through us toward the world and others. Love is beyond us.

Every day I start with a prayer. I think of those I love and ask God for four requests. I expand it out to the whole of my family and friends. Then, I ask God the same requests for all people of the world. As I do this, I am filled with love that is beyond me and flows through me. I am put a drop in the ocean of love. Here are the four requests:

  • Lord Jesus, may you be with all people and keep them safe.
  • Lord Jesus, may you fill everyone with your Easter spirit of joy and love.
  • Lord Jesus, May you breath your Holy Spirit of life into them, granting them health and vitality
  • Lord Jesus, may their lives flow like living water through a desert, transforming the dryness into a vineyard of abundant grapes.

Love comes.

About Ernesto Tinajero

Art, says Ernesto Tinajero, comes from the border of what has come before and what is coming next. Tinajero uses his experience studying poetry and theology to write about the intersecting borders of art, poetry and religion.

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