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Unconventional sentiments

Wendell Berry's artistic vision for community and the ties that bind us reach far broader than traditional Valentine's Day lyrics.   P Travis Kroeker gathers the thoughts of Wendell Berry in his essay Sexuality and the Sacramental Imagination; parts of his essay are excerpted here: (Ellipses have been omitted in places for readability.) 

"Love is not about great and beautiful fantasies of heroic goodness by attractive, noble, brilliant human beings.  …[O]ur culture loves to focus exclusively on the romantic couple and their exclusive happiness, whose beauty and good sentiments will somehow carry them through.  Love is not exclusive; it is shared.  Love is not a feeling, but an act of giving ourselves away unconditionally, as God does.  That means love cannot finally stop with the other person to whom one gives oneself.  A loving marriage is a giving of everything to the end that love seeks- the "all in all" of God's boundless loving care of the world.

"That is why marriage as a sacrament is so powerful and so frightening, because it is a particular expression of finding one's life by losing it. … Love entails the putting away of childish things for the real work of building up love in the world.

"The sacrament of marriage is therefore anything but a private, exclusive act; it is always related to the larger community of which it is a part.  One of the great dangers of romantic love is that it privatizes love, depriving it of essential nutrients.  A flourishing marriage needs the community to sustain it and will in turn build up the community and the life of the world.  … Married intimacy... nurtures and is nurtured by something larger.  It includes and cares for others- not only children that might come along, but also strangers, neighbors, the poor and lowly, the lonely and sorrowing, the oppressed and suffering-- all to whom it is joined in the boundlessness of divine love, God's mysterious body both visible and invisible."

As you celebrate love today, celebrate in acts of genuine love, and perhaps handwritten beauty, for the sake of your community that echoes with the boundless love of God. 


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