In last week’s blog post, I shared something from St. Basil about love. A reader emailed me: “I got everything except the part about love being a wound.”
Sounds contradictory, right? If God’s love is perfect, how can we experience it as a wound? And why would that love hurt us?
Think back to the Valentines you gave your classmates in grade school – how often they depicted a heart pierced by an arrow. That arrow hints at the wound of love.
People groan after a big Thanksgiving meal because their stomachs have stretched from holding more food than usual. It hurts a little bit.
Same with our hearts. Sometimes in prayer, the amazement of God’s love starts to overwhelm us. Our heart hurts a little bit—we feel a pang of sorrow for not being able to contain all the love that we feel pouring into us. We might say “my heart is overflowing.” Our hearts are being stretched beyond their previous capacity.
A mother once told me that she didn’t like the prospect of having to divide her maternal love in half when her second child arrived. She later said she found out that love doesn’t divide, it multiplies. Her heart was “wounded by love” in expanding to include the new baby.
We feel the wound of love anytime we are confronted with something bigger and more beautiful than we can take in—a mountaintop view or a baby’s smile—anything that brings us to tears of joy or gratitude.
Hmm yes, sometimes love can hurt when it is never ending or so deep and strong, kinda when one laughs so hard it hurts.
Also love can hurt when the one you love makes wrong choices and you know they hurt themselves but you have to let them be responsible and find their own path… Think about how God’s heart must have hurt when Adam and Eve fell, disobeyed him. God continues to love us even though we really mess up his creation. That must hurt….
So true. I think of the agony Jesus endured in the garden of Gesthemane when our mess-ups hurt him so much he sweat blood. Thank you for your insights, Irmgard.
Quotes about love and pain struggle to describe the indescribable. It’s as if we don’t have the vocabulary for it in our contemporary framework of thinking, namely life, liberty and property or the pursuit of happiness.
We associate wounds with pain, yet St. Francis when visited by the crucified angel was humbled by the sight, and his heart was filled with elation joined by pain and suffering as he received the wounds. When St Teresa’s body was pierced with the angel’s spirit of gold she reported “The pain was so great, that it made me moan;
and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God.”
The ecstasy is a signal of the closeness that comes with the surrender to love. As in Ruth 1:16 “But Ruth said ‘Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you! For wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people and your God my God.'”
Yes, indescribable. But somehow in the words you shared, it’s communicated. Yes, yes, and yes.