Pilgrimpace's Blog


valentine’s day
February 14, 2016, 9:47 am
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Here’s my script for Radio WM’s Thought for the Day this morning. I must be more famous for grand romantic gestures than I thought.

12516381_10208285693760354_1366775042_nIt’s Valentines Day, a time when we celebrate love and romance.  Sellers of champagne, roses and candlelit dinners for two will do well.

Valentines reminds me of this passage from Captain Correlli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres in which Iannis, an elderly Greek doctor, is warning his daughter:

And another thing.  Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.  And when it subsides you have to make a decision.  You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.  Because that is what love is.  Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion … That is just being “in love”; any fool can fall in love.  Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away … It is finding that you have roots which have grown towards each other underground and that you are one tree and not two.

This reminds us that love is about hard work as well as beautiful excitement.  It  helps us look beyond our immediate circumstances; it raises our eyes to the horizons.

To paraphrase bel hooks, “Love is a piece of work, not a state of mind”.  What does long-term, hard-working, tough love have to tell us about a world where people are homeless, hungry, cold, lonely (insert today’s topical news reference)?

How can this love help us to practically overcome the barriers between us so that we can make a real difference to those who need us most?

Champagne and roses and chocolates can ease the way to this. Happy Valentines.

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rooted

When I’m preaching at a wedding or a renewal of marriage vows like I am this afternoon, I often quote this passage from Captain Correlli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres in which Iannis, an elderly Greek doctor, is warning his daughter Pelagia of the dangers of love:

And another thing.  Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.  And when it subsides you have to make a decision.  You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.  Because that is what love is.  Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion … That is just being “in love”; any fool can fall in love.  Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away … It is finding that you have roots which have grown towards each other underground and that you are one tree and not two.

And quoting this here raises a whole range of questions.  What does this long-term focussed love mean?  What does it mean when it is focussed not just on one other person or family, but on a community or city or country or world?  What are the social and political consequences of such love?  What does long-term love in a relationship of whatever sort teach us about the nature of political love and commitment?