On Saturday morning as I was putting on scrubs and clogs and pulling my hair up in a ponytail, preparing for another long shift at the urgent care where I practice medicine part-time, I watched clips of the royal wedding. The ceremony had already taken place, since the U.K. is nine hours ahead of California.
I teared up at Prince Harry and Meghan’s irrepressible smiles and loving glances and palpable joy. The carriage, the tiara, the hand-picked bouquet, the spring sunlight streaming through stain glassed windows. It was all just. so. beautiful. It did my heart good to experience such a stunning expression of love.
But the love Meghan Markle was experiencing on Saturday was quite different from the love I experienced that day.
As Meghan was taking a horse-drawn carriage ride with her new husband, I was walking to work.
As she was drinking champagne, I was asking a barista for “a coffee as big as my head” (I’d worked a 13-hour shift the day before, and I was still really tired.)
As Meghan was changing into a stunning white Stella McCartney evening gown, I was donning a starched white coat.
As she was dancing in satin heels, patients were vomiting on my clogs.
As she was eating lemon elderberry wedding cake, I was administering Amoxicillin and Ibuprofen.
As dignitaries from around the world were watching her elegant wedding, I, meanwhile, was on my hands and knees playing with a 2-year-old on the floor of the exam room, trying to get him to trust me enough to fix the laceration on his face.
The other clip of the royal wedding I watched while I was getting ready for work that morning was Bishop Michael Curry’s stirring sermon about love. (You can watch the full 13-minute sermon here.)
In his message, Bishop Curry quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love, and when we do that we will make of this old world a new world. For love is the only way.”
Love is the only way.
Love, I realized as I was locking up the clinic on Saturday evening, looks like a lot of things.
Sometimes love is beautiful and soaring and sophisticated. Sometimes love wears a gown and heels and dances with a prince. Sometimes love is celebrated with hundreds or thousands or millions of people. Sometimes love eats lemon elderberry cake and washes it down with champagne.
And sometimes love is hard and messy and menial. Sometimes love wears clogs and scrubs and scurries back and forth between sick patients. Sometimes love goes unwitnessed and unseen and unacknowledged. Sometimes love gets blood in its hair and vomit on its shoes. Sometimes it gives Amoxicillin and Ibuprofen as merciful sacraments for the suffering.
Yes, love looks like a lot of things.
And love, in all its forms, is the only way.
Whether it’s high or low, glamorous or grueling, in plain sight or behind closed doors, it’s love — in all its forms, in all its ways, in each heart and in every corner of the planet we share — it’s love and only love that saves the world.