Commonplace Thoughts of a Residual Welshman: Love is the Reason

Well, we passed St. Valentine’s Day, and this year I was supremely busy so I couldn’t write a blog about love or romance or huggin’ and kissin’… and maybe that’s a good thing, as this time of year that’s all one seems to hear about. So I did a little research; I had an idea that if people really are “inspired” by St. Valentine’s Day, there would be a higher number of babies born 9 months from that date than in any other month.  The notion made good sense to me.

But there are not.  In fact, it seems that in the United States, at least, the greatest number of babies born are in August.  Which means that the act of conception would have to have transpired around the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.  Gosh, that’s weird, I thought to myself. Who wants to sleep with anyone on a very, very full stomach?  I still think it’s weird.

But I would like to move away from the question of love-making and get back to love.  For, you see, love and love-making are closely related ideas, but not quite the same.  A husband loves his wife, and the two make love; that makes sense. But you can love someone in another way, too.  In an interview, Michael Learned, who played the mother in the Walton’s, a 1970s TV show, says she loved Ralph Waite, her co-star, but never “ruined” their relationship with one another by taking “that extra step” (to quote Ms. Learned in a recent article about their relationship).[1]

But even the kind of close spiritual bond that they shared is not the love I want to talk about here.  Rather, I would like to talk about the best line I heard in a movie that I recently saw. The movie is the story of a young reporter named Lee Strobel, who is now a professor in Houston, Texas. He began his career as a star reporter for the Chicago Tribune.  The movie is punchy, hard-hitting stuff, and even entertaining.  It’s about Strobel and his whole family’s strange journey from a life in which reason, reality, and even a touch of gloom dominated their thoughts to a belief in possibilities, excitement and, dare I say, even the prospect of the miraculous.[2]  But the reason I tell you this is, as I said, the line in question. At a climactic moment in the film, Strobel, who is investigating all the historical aspects of the crucifixion of Christ, ponders why in the world Christ would die on the cross, and he comes to this conclusion: “So love is the reason.” 

That was a profound moment for Strobel in the movie and it’s a profound moment for the viewer, as well.  Love is the reason. You could just put the period there; for everything.  Love motivates, love opens up new horizons, love makes us open to new possibilities, and love can even tempt us to believe in miracles.  I had dinner on Friday with one of my most beloved old friends—I say old, but he’s only 35—we have been friends since he was about 20 (I’m a touch older). He once did not believe in miracles; firmly so. Yet now he does. What happened?  Did he see miracles?  (Yes he did, but only because he was by then looking for them).  For what happened in the meantime was, well, the line from the film: that’s what happened. He first saw that love in a great college professor named Carl Vaught.  That could have been miracle enough.  But he saw the love elsewhere, and now he carries that love with him and conveys it to all he touches. And, if I may say, this young man touches a lot of people, and not just because he has an Oxford PhD; he has touched me with his love that his simultaneously his own and also a gift he received, a gift of the cross.

I close with that thought: love.  I hope, even pray, that it may surround you, envelop you, even from time to time embrace you.  For that is what love does.


[2] The film is entitled, after a book that Strobel wrote, “The Case for Christ.”  Despite its rather pedantic sounding title, I warmly recommend the film. The second great line of the film was a paraphrase of C.S. Lewis’ statement that if Christianity is wrong, it is of no great consequence; but if it is right, well, “that changes everything” and life is filled with wonder and “impossible” possibilities.