Love is a great god or so the ancients claimed. Yet Plato and all our experiences show us that love is fuel not the goal. When we worship love, then we are, all of us, deceived. Love is a natural response to beauty and to the good, but when we confuse the fuel with the destination, we end up dead from the fumes.
Christian poet and thinker George Marion McClellan knew what Plato speculated: love can get us to the Good, but love is not the Good. Instead, far too often when love goes awry, we bloom only to find the conditions wrong. We are like a dandelion in February, tricked by warm weather, unexpected heat, to act.
He picked January instead of the month of Valentine, but he got it. He almost always did.
A JANUARY DANDELION
All Nashville is a chill.
Like desert sand, when the winds blow,
There is each moment sifted through the air,
A powdered blast of January snow.
O! thoughtless Dandelion, to be misled
By a few warm days to leave thy natural bed,
Was folly growth and blooming over soon.
And yet, thou blasted yellow-coated gem,
Full many a heart has but a common boon
With thee, now freezing on thy slender stem.
When the heart has bloomed by the touch of love’s warm breath
Then left and chilling snow is sifted in,
It still may beat but there is blast and death
To all that blooming life that might have been.
We live so often with “life that might have been.” Life is right to be eager, just to desire beauty, and proper to bloom, but not if tricked by tricksy conditions. That would be one thing, but sometimes we simply do wrong: we bloom in January or February and our love dies, as it must, in the blast.
Love is not justification, merely explanation. Tayari Jones gets the truth: even American marriage is often no marriage. Only what God has joined together should not be put asunder. What February causes to bloom, may, just may, be a dandelion out of time or it may be a flower that is eternal, the reality of who we are, but that is killed by a disjointed nature.
It is not just people who are messed up: society and nature are broken as well. Sometimes we respond to what is good, true, and beautiful, but there is no future. We wish to marry, but society says: no miscegenation. God forgive our society. We make what God called July. . . a February.
Society will not allow for what should be and so forces us to accept what is. God help us.
There is a deeper truth than Plato knew that McClellan understood. Our love drives us to the Good and if we get there, we discover that the Good is three persons with one Essence and that Love exists eternally there. God is not the Good and the Good is Love. Our love leads to Love.
Here is the truth: if we bloom in January or February then the bloom may die, but “what might have been” remains and that is often better, truer, and lovelier than all that is. God is good and God is Love. The Good and Love go together or should do so. When they do not, we are most often to blame, but there is also social dysfunction.
Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.