There is a great deal of talk about romance in the air today. It’s Valentine’s Day after all. Today is the preeminent day in our culture where our attention becomes fixated on romance and the accoutrements of ardor and desire. There are plenty of people who are critical of Valentine’s Day, for any number of good reasons, but I’m not really one of them. I like Valentine’s Day. I am a bit of a romantic at heart and I embrace any excuse to show my wife that I love her, and cherish the family we have begun to build together. I do sometimes wonder, however, if our celebration of Valentine’s Day highlights a poverty in our understanding of what romance is.
Romance is more than feelings of attraction for another person . The word romance emerged as a way of characterizing a genre of narratives that touched on a broad range of passions. It sought to characterize stories of beauty, adventure, intrigue, mystery, challenge and triumph.
It goes much deeper than sexual attraction. Romance is energy that bonds all the surprising connections in our hearts. It is the power which drives the arts and poetry. It is the sight that looks beyond the panes of glass that form our empirical existence and finds they our a window that gazes out onto the landscape of the divine .
Romance is much bigger than girls and boys; flowers and chocolates; kisses and holding hands.
Romance is the mystical landscape of our very existence, it grabs hold of our hearts in all the places that long for God and invites us into to depths of a divine struggle and inspires us to connect with a divine story.
This is what Dwight Longenecker’s new book The Romance of Religion is all about. I was blessed to have read through it a few weeks ago, and I have to say it was an inspiring read. Fr. Longenecker manages to cast a vision for the life of faith as one deeply entrenched in the rhythms of romance. He lifts the veil from the every-day christian life and brings into focus the divine drama at play in our faith and lives. All of this is done with a charm and wit that reminded me of G.K. Chesterton, George MacDonald and C.S. Lewis. It was truly a joy and an inspiration to read!
I hope you can find the time to pick up a copy and give it a read. We all need romance. May this Valentine’s Day offer you a opportunity to embrace the romance in your life; be it in a spouse, a friend, a book, a song, a person in need, or in a prayer. May we all take time today to find the divine beauty and poetry that permeates our lives, and give thanks for the God who enters into our world and invites us to join in His romance.