1 Corinthians 13
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing. Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
My grandparents renewed their wedding vows on their 50th wedding anniversary in 2003, and my sisters and I took turns reading from this passage. It’s among the most beautiful and well-known passages in the Bible. It never fails to bring tears to my eyes when it’s spoken out loud.
I thought about it this morning on the way to work, musing about all the many wonderful and horrible ways love (that often sticky romantic kind) has made itself known to people around me in the past year or so. Dating, relationships ending, relationships gone but not forgotten, relationships beginning, possibilities lingering in glances, marriages, people picking themselves up and dusting themselves off from heartache and disappointment.
I’m a walking contradiction on the dating/love/relationships issue. I’m on a self-imposed hiatus that wavers in the presence of any particularly beautiful or amazing person. But it occurred to me this morning that I’m surrounded by beautiful and amazing people every day.
Last night in one of those moments of weakness when I was complaining – no, babbling – about the lack of a lover, someone asked if I’d reconsidered my decision to take a break, and I said that it wasn’t that my love life was missing, it was just absent. Except that it’s not that either. It’s everywhere. I watch in awe and amazement and joy at my loved ones who have found someone who, even for a moment, can create that beautiful and exhilarating feeling of “love” or love. I know what it feels like when that happens. I’ll know it when I feel it again. But the beauty of the passage isn’t as it relates to one person or one union, though that’s the context in which it’s most often heard and that we, culturally, are made to feel incomplete without – it’s how love is present in the everyday. Quietly, sometimes imperceptibly, sometimes taken for granted – but there.