JUSTICE OF THE PEACE There are times when it seems that so much has been written about love that there is not more to be said about it. And, worse, sometimes it seems that so much that has been written about love that is pure drivel-unattained and unattainable. Or volumes are written about sexual manipulation without a word about the fact that good sex, holy sex, requires a good relationship. Or, pure theory of a theological kind talks about “loving God” when I have yet to understand human love, let alone the divine. But love is none of those things, alone and entirely. Love is far more meaningful than that. Love is something learned only by the long, hard labor of life. It is sometimes over before we’ve even known we ever had it. We sometimes destroy it before we appreciate it. We often have it and simply take it for granted. But sometimes, if we’re lucky, we live long enough to grow into it in such a way that because of it we come to recognize the value of life. As the years go by, we come to love flowers and cats and small infants and old ladies and life on the dock and the one person in life who knows how hot we like our coffee. We learn enough about love to allow things to slip away and ourselves to melt into the God whose lovemade all of it possible. Sometimes we even find a love deep, gentle enough, tender enough to detach us from the foam and frills of life, all of which hold us captive to things that cannot satisfy. Sometimes we live long enough to see the face of God in another. Then, in that case, we have loved. The poets and story-tellers across time have told us about the dimensions of love that last. The poet Rumi wrote: From myself I am copper, through You, friend, I am gold. From myself I’m a stone, but through You I am a gem! And in the course of World War I, the story was told that a young sergeant begged his commanding officer to allow him to go back onto the battlefield to rescue his fallen friend. “If you do that, we’ll lose you both,” the officer said. But the sergeant begged and the officer relented. After the battle, when the battalion was finally able to retrieve both bodies, the sergeant was still alive but losing ground rapidly. “Now do you see how useless it was to go out there?” the officer demanded. “Oh no, sir, it was all worth it,” the sergeant whispered as he breathed his last, “You see, when I finally got to him, he said to me, ‘Jack, I knew you’d come,’”Real love enables everything we are. Real love knows no costs. Joan Chittister, OSB WHAT IS LOVE ?  BACKBAY WEDDINGS.COM BY ROSARIA SALERNO