In E. L. Doctorow’s The Book of Daniel, a novel loosely based on trial and execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, the children of arrested spies are put into the unwilling keeping of a distant relative – a woman who accepts the responsibility and then stumps off, saying, “I’ll do my best, but that’s all!”
Reading it as a teenager, that was my first exposure to the idea that people could choose to put limits on love.
Of course, the idea has gained some traction, particularly in the past 4 decades. People limit love all the time, now, or worse, don’t even let love through the door. We selectively abort two babies while keeping the third, because that’s preferable to living in Staten Island and buying big jars of mayo. We embrace the temporary wedding vow.
When we limit the amount of love we allow in, or give out, we limit the work of God in our lives; His access to us, our access to him. The older I get, the more I know this to be true. As the challenged Abbess from In this House of Brede scrawled on her notepad during a stressful time: “there can be no limits.”
To limit love is to stop the forward thrust of God, working in our lives.
A few weeks ago, I posted this video here, and left the commenting to you folks:
The story nags me a little bit, and in my new weekly column at First Things, I explain why:
A too-long-undiagnosed bout with Lyme Disease has left me challenged with arthritis and some neurological damage. The arthritis has its uses: I can predict rain, and the pain gives me something to offer up in prayer, or as penance.
Not so the neurological issues. At the peak of my illness I was unable to figure out how to do the dishes; my organizational skills have never fully recovered, and verbally I sometimes wander into strange lands, referring to cereal as cookies, or to hats as helmets. When that happens, and after I have apologized to my family for sending them into hysterics or on goose chases, I will ask, “Are you going to get rid of me, when my mind is gone?”
“We’re going to be confused a lot of the time,” they admit.
“Well,” I shrug, “as long as you still love me.”
And check back each week. Like a Traveling Horse Doctor or a lazy Cha-cha girl, I’ll be appearing every Tuesday!