What the BeeGees revealed to me about love

Kneading Faith
By Fran Lavelle
It’s funny how a tune will pop in your head without warning and hang around for an hour or two before fading away. I was on my way to take the garbage to the road the other morning and suddenly I found myself humming “Love Is” by the Bee Gees. I tried to dismiss it as I sat down for my morning cup of joe and ritual “quiet time” with God. The words, “Love is, higher than a mountain, thicker than water….” kept coming to me. OK, love is tall and viscous. So what? And, as is our usual morning routine, the Holy Spirit made a visit and the “so what” found meaning.
What did the Holy Spirit and the Bee Gees teach me that morning? There is a great quote from Pope Francis making its way around the cyber-sphere that says, “It is not enough to love people, they must feel loved. I couldn’t agree more. Love is the only answer. So then, love is a verb. Love requires action. It is not enough to speak of it, one must “do” love in order to manifest love. How do I “do” love? Is it through great acts? Or is it in small acts of kindness as St. Therese the Little Flower would tell us? Is it putting more resources toward a problem? Or is it in teaching those who lack necessities how to provide for themselves? Or is it simply in being present? I hope that my best moments in ministry are when I am listening to others.
If love is “higher than a mountain,” as the brothers Gibb contend, then we must exercise our hearts daily to be prepared to scale it. The actions of one who loves well reflect first and foremost a love of self. I am not talking about narcissism. I am talking about a self-awareness that reminds us that we were created by God, through his great love for us and in his likeness and image. It is the mirror that reflects the love of God on his beloved, and in return our love back to him. Equipped with my core understanding of my own dignity I am able to share the love of God with others.
Therefore, if I am to manifest love in a way that others “feel loved” I am going to have to be in shape to scale the mountain of love. I am of no use if half way up the “mountain of love’ I must stop. The only way to get better at something is to do it. There, I said it, difficult as it can be I must love well daily and that love must include love for my own self.
If we think of love as “thicker than water,” then we quickly recognize that love is messy. Many of us get stuck in the “mud” of love. I can’t move forward because this or that happened. Or our good friend apathy shows up and tells us the problem is too great for us to make a difference, so we stay stuck. What if we thought of the “thickness” of love as an anchor? What if the viscosity of love is meant to slow us down? What if love was like water? Would it pass over, above and under us at such a rapid speed that we would never feel its warmth? So this slow moving thick love gives me an opportunity to feel love.
I found my Bee Gees greatest hits CD (don’t judge, it gets worse) and played the song. I danced around my living room alone. We are all trying to capture what love is, what it means to us, and how it is manifested. As we grow older we realize it is not merely a feeling. We realize it takes work to love well. But, too, hopefully we learn that it cannot be contained.
Love must be shared in order to be sustained. And, most of all, it must be given away freely without conditions of who gets it, how they perceive it, or what they do with it. About the rest of the chorus, “You are this dreamer’s only dream. Heaven’s angel, devil’s daughter,” well that will have to be looked into at a later date. In the meantime, wherever you are today, please know that you are loved…
(Fran Lavelle is the director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Jackson.)