As we start a new calendar year, there is no more important topic than love. So I begin with St. Clive, and his associated reflections.
C. S. Lewis wrote Four Loves and reflected on the different Greek words for love (storge or affection, philia or friendship, eros or romantic love, and agape or gift-love). In it, he reminds us that the
nature of loving someone is that it opens us up to pain, but that the pain is
worth the greater good of love. To not love is ultimately hell... and, really, that's not a bad definition of hell, separation from God, the place where there is no love.
Of all arguments against
love none makes so strong an appeal to my nature as ‘Careful! This might lead
my nature, my temperament, yes. Not to my conscience. When I respond to that
appeal I seem to myself to be a thousand miles away from Christ. If I am sure
of anything I am sure that His teaching was never meant to confirm my
congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities. I doubt
whether there is anything in me that pleases Him less. And who could
conceivably begin to love God on such prudential ground—because the security
(so to speak) is better? Who could even include it among the grounds for
loving?... One must be outside the world of love, of all loves, before one thus
love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly
be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact,
you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully
round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up
safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe,
dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will
become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or
at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven
where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love
How's that for a definition of hell and a reminder of the importance, and cost, of love?