I’m over at Stand Firm today.
It is both Valentine’s Day, as everyone knows, and the Feast of the Transfiguration, because Ash Wednesday is just around the corner, and that is how the church calendar works. I was wandering around the readings last night, feeling especially bad for Elijah in all his disappointments, when, distracted for a moment by Facebook, I came across this gem that I cannot pretend I didn’t read to the very end.
A long while ago (was it last year or something?) I stumbled across that new and clever idea, “self-marriage,” which is where, if you can’t get anyone to love you, you order up from a company a box of stuff that helps you pull off a sort of a ceremony whereby you “marry” yourself. After all, it’s not fair for everyone else to have nice presents and a party and you never get to, because you always seem to be alone. Also, loving yourself is the greatest love of all.
Ms. Hollis seems to be headed in that direction. She is no longer with the person she married a decade and a half ago, but that’s no reason to be sad, to mourn or grieve over the mountain of failures that eventually make people give up on each other and go off to a new life as if nothing had happened. As you know, since we are practically back in the intellectual dark ages now, love is entirely a matter of chance and superstition. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the mind or the will, and no amount of work you can do will save any relationship you have—except the one where you chiefly love yourself.
Therefore, Ms. Hollis can take that clever idea of the “love languages” for which there was some kind of Christian book sometime in the last few decades, and instead of using it as a way to better love another person, she will use it to love herself. She will do an “act of service” for herself by cleaning out her closet.
In pursuit of this new quest, she dug around a little about the life of St. Valentine and discovered that he once sent himself a love letter from prison, which proves that celebrating yourself is a fabulous idea, because of history. Just as an aside, I had never heard that legend and so did do a google search and found everything about St. Valentine roundly debunked except the beheading part. This year everyone seems to think that Chaucer was the inventor of Valentine’s Day, along with one or two chocolate companies.
Ms. Hollis’ third recommendation, to “BE love” I found a hint more useful. Yes, if you are alone, or in a bad way, it is an eminently suitable idea to reach out to someone else and to—and I’ll just add this word because I feel like trolling—“selflessly” spend yourself out of love for whoever it is.
For that is what our Lord did, not only on the Feast of the Transfiguration, but on every other day of the time that he walked on this earth. He did not count equality with the Father, to whom he is bound in eternal and perfect love, as something to be grasped, but poured himself out, even unto death on the cross, out of love, so that you might be reconciled to the Father and brought into eternal life. So anyway, the dictum, “Don’t forget to love yourself,” is really antithetical to true love, especially true Christian love, because love requires an object, it requires letting go of oneself and choosing to put someone else first. Two people, in fact, are required for the kind of love that will produce the ultimate happiness that Ms. Hollis and the whole world longs so much to enjoy.
I am excessively bemused by the idea that the self as an object of love will be a satisfying pursuit. Bemused because the gospels themselves handle this very question so deftly, with so much humor and revelatory wit. When Jesus is transfigured before Peter, James, and John—he hauls them up the mountain, and for an instant they are dazzled, getting to see what he is like all the time, only mostly veiled by the meekness of his persistent journey to the cross—Peter, loving his Lord for but an instant, but also so deeply committed to himself and his own priorities and sense of what makes life worth living, explains to Jesus …read the rest here!