In a month that hosts the holiday of Valentines Day, February tends to have a love culturally embedded in its conversations, expenses, and activities. Let’s face it, in February, love is in the limelight!
And the sentiment of a dedicated holiday to gather those you love and tell them so is not a negative thing. In the rush of life, we can often lose sight of the deep and meaningful ways that our loved ones matter to us and indeed change us by their love. Love is never a bad thing to celebrate, though if it is shown only once a year through chocolate and roses, then we may have some problems.
One of my favorite understandings of love comes from Catholic theologian, Herbert McCabe. McCabe writes, “But the essential gift you give to the one you love is the gift of space to exist, the gift of liberation.” For McCabe, this love is what is needed in selfhood because it allows one the space to be oneself, which is liberative. He writes, “Love is rather rare and comes with maturity when we can get away from the need to be dominant or to find another who is not dominant.” McCabe here shows that domination is the opposite of love because love is creating space for the other to be their fullest selves. This kind of love is liberative.
Ecofeminist theologian, Sallie McFague, affirms this understanding of love as creating space.
“Love here is not a mere sentimental emotion or an act of charity; rather, it is the objective recognition that others exist, have intrinsic worth, and have rights to the basics of existence.”
Church, in this month that love gets consumed, subsumed, and thrown around so much in rhetoric, may we dedicate ourselves to actively do the work of love by creating space for one another to be our fullest selves.
For it is the love of Christ that compels us.