Friday, October 13, 2006

Finding Freedom in the Bonds of Love

The walls of the house signify the boundary enclosing the particular place where these few people are engaged in enacting the rite of love, that is, of exchanged life. They experience it under many forms: the love of the parents for each other is one form; the love of the mother for her son, say, is another, and for her daughter another; and the father for his daughter and for his son; and the older brother for the younger sister, or the older sister for the younger brother. There are a dozen variations on the theme, but the same theme; namely, that we find real life where mutual responsibility and commitment turn out to be forms of joy. It is love that liberates the participants for this. Love sets them free from the calculating and jockeying and tallying up of scores that we find in mere politics, where we have to protect people with half-measure such as equality and rights and self-determination. Love opens onto a vastly more splendid order of things; and the forms of love at work in an ordinary family are like introductions to this splendor.

This family bond is there in the fabric of ordinary human life, giving us all this chance to participate in the Real Thing. All forms of love furnish this chance in one way or another, of course --love for one's country, or for one's community, or one's master or friend. Wherever love operates, there we find some exhibition of the principle. But the obvious place where we find the natural occasion for the whole race to enact the rite is the household -- in other words,in the biological family.

No one supposes that these four or five or six people are a select breed, tailored to get along with each other perfectly, or picked because they are better than anyone else. Rather, it is as though the great lesson in love that we must all learn sooner or later has been made obvious, easy, and natural by being carried along in the arms of sheer biology...
This just seems to continue the message from yesterday about God putting us right smack in the middle of the place we need to be to learn what we need to know. Once again, we've just got to recognize it to help us get the most advantage from the lesson.

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