We talk a lot about God’s love. We talk about it being endless and unconditional. And we know how important it is for us to really believe in that love and to be convinced in the depths of our soul that we cannot lose that love.
I’ve been spending some time over the past week thinking some comments a friend shared with me on this subject. Acknowledging that God’s love means something different to different people, he admitted that he sometimes finds the way that love is discussed in sermons and devotions to be boring. He described it as sanitizing God’s love so as to make is safe and sterile, as though we were afraid of expressing it in emotional and exciting terms.
Safe in the sense of giving us security that we can’t lose God’s love is terrific. But confining God’s love to the kind of safe, passionless love we might feel toward an elderly relative is not only boring, but, in a way, deadening.
I have quoted before Pedro Arrupe’s lines about finding God, which he defines as falling in love with God. Arrupe is right in saying that “what you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything.” Sterile and safe don’t inspire us. What will move us is falling deeply in love with God and recognizing how deeply in love with us God is. If we don’t know that from our own experience, we know if from the experience of the mystics. Read how people like Teresa of Avala talk about God’s love; there is nothing sterile about those descriptions.
Perhaps what we need is to spend less time listening to boring, safe and sanitized descriptions of God’s love and more time hearing the poetry of people like:
Teresa of Avila: “He desired me so I came close”
St. Thomas Aquinas: “The Christ said…My hands need to touch you again, my divine senses and eyes require your soul’s beauty near.”
Meister Eckhardt: “at each divine juncture my wings expand and I touch Him more intimately.”
Rabia: “God must get hungry for us; why is He not also a love who wants His lovers near.”
Read some of that poetry. Or read the Song of Songs. But know that there is nothing safe or sterile or passionless about God’s love.