is all around us." Those are the words of Hugh Grant's character in the movie of the same name, and as I am discovering myself in these past few weeks, it is true in life. Yes, war, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, high gas prices, and the avian flu are very much in the news lately, but when I take my eyes off of those headlines and begin to ponder the less heralded events in life, I see signs of love everywhere.
In a few hours, my husband and I will go to the wedding reception of two friends who have decided to give love another chance. Both husband and wife emerged scarred and wounded from previous marriages, but they believe that love actually is worth another try and have formed a new family. They were married on the coast of North Carolina yesterday afternoon and are having a party tonight here in Charlotte.
Yesterday I received an email announcing the birth of the first grandchild to a dear couple we knew from Connecticut. In the few words of that greeting I could hear and feel the love that Ruth has for her new grandson. Earlier in the week, we opened a note sent to us from a former GE colleague and his wife who have recently had another baby. In speaking to the new mother on the telephone, I was reminded that no one infuses energy and love into a family like a newborn baby.
On Thursday afternoon, I had the opportunity to sit with my dear friend Katie, for a couple of hours, hashing over life's ups and downs, the challenges and the joys that life in North Carolina brings, and between sips of coffee and tales of woe, love flowed in us and through us. Last night I ate a spicy meal and drank a fine red wine at the home of Alejandra, a new confidante from Costa Rica. Then there is the long-term and ongoing chat-fest I indulge in almost with Karen. Nor can I fail to mention my favorite flight attendant, Kim, who calls me on her way to and from the airport; she's the same one who flew all the way to Spain in early June to visit us. Amy, in Vermont, keeps me honest about politics, parenting, and homeschooling - among so many other things. Moneesha keeps me flush in postcards, email, and never lets a week go by without checking in on me in some way. I could go on and on, but the truth is obvious: there is deep love even in friendship.
I have developed two awesome relationships solely through the internet. One is with Leonie, an artist, writer, dancer, photographer, and all-around wonder of a woman - even though she lives all the way over in Australia. I met Joanne because she attended and worked at my college alma mater. It was through her work there that she and I became friends two or three years ago. The internet has connected us across many miles; in spirit, however, we are always close at hand and heart. Someday I hope to meet both of these women face-to-face, but in the meantime, we will deepen not only our friendship, but also our love for each other by means of keyboard and satellite.
Even in times of sorrow and loss, love has a way of showing up. One of my favorite chefs in the world, the woman who undoubtedly makes the best roast beef roll-ups and sweet pepper jelly on the east coast, lost her father last weekend. As she watched him decline, she wrote to me and called me regularly, telling me over and over again how much she loved him, how difficult it was to watch him suffer, and how incredulous she was that eventually she would have to make her way through this world without her father's physical presence two houses away from her own. Her love for him seemed to multiply exponentially in their last days together. This is the same woman who has immeasurable love for her two step-children, for her siblings, and for friends whose disappearance from her life still baffles her - her love just keeps on going and going and going. Jill, you are in my thoughts and prayers.
I know far too many women (and men) who are watching their marriages dissolve, who are steeped in the agony that follows divorce, and who are currently in relationships that are defined more by pain than by joy. Yet in every case, these women have no regrets for the love they have shared, for the children they have birthed, or for the hope they still harbor in the face of dire circumstances.
Love is not always pretty. Love is never easy. What I see in the movies never includes the drudgery of dirty diapers, the late night arguments, or the ebbs and flows of passion that accompany every relationship in life. As much as I'd like to know the kind of love that is described in I Corinthians 13 firsthand, in my personal experience, most of the time love is not patient. It is not kind. It is rude, self-seeking, and easily angered. My imperfect, conditional, and temporary love does keep record of wrong. It doesn't always protect, trust, hope or persevere.
But even though I fail at it so much of the time, love actually is all around me. I look forward to seeing it, toasting to it, and reconnecting with it tonight at the wedding party.
Congrats Rob and Jen!