Love is not best considered as a feeling, it is not necessarily something at the forefront of consciousness. For many people, their deepest love is something which structures their life, rather than being at the front of our conscious deliberations for most of the time. Some (I am one of them) are very expressive of love – but this is not a necessity; and some very loving cultures and families and marriages do not go in for statements, hugs or tears.


My understanding of the absolute necessity of loving God above all else is metaphysical rather than psychological – that without this, all other loves (including the love of Jesus) lose their meaning and function.

The supremacy of our love for God is that it makes all other loves possible – it makes other loves a matter of eternal significance.


-thus Bruce Charlton.

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To an extent, in romance and marriage the love goes from being at the forefront to being that subterranean something which structures life.  Marital exercises like saying ‘I love you,’ kissing for at least six seconds before separating each  morning, dating every Friday, and all of that, are not ways to rekindle love.  They are ways to bring it to the surface.  They are helpful.  For some people they are necessary, because of the human tendency to act and make decisions based only on what is on the surface.  But other folks get on fine without them; the daily acts of service that are inherent in marriage are enough upwelling for them.  Spiritual exercises work the same as marital exercises.  The love for God is already there.  We have all fallen in love with Him, if I may speak that way, from before the foundation of the world.  But prayer, scripture study, and church attendance bring it up to the forefront.  As with the love of God, the marital love literally makes other loves possible.  In the case of marriage, the love of children.

I used to worry that I had a finite capacity for love.  I feared that when I increased my love for someone, it meant decreasing my love for someone else.  I knew I had a finite and fixed capacity for paying attention to someone and I knew that to the extent I thought more about Friend A I thought less about Cousin B.  What I learned was that shifting attention didn’t evaporate the love I had felt before.  It submerged it.  Love was not the surface of a pond.  Love was a deep well.  The size of the surface remained the same, but the depth of the water increased.  Once I’d lived long enough to have old friends and family that I hadn’t had any contact with for awhile, and then meet them again and have all the old times come rushing back in an instant of joy, I knew better than to think that old love was lost.  (Similar experiences with people I’ve never met before are rare, but also occur.  A couple of years ago someone from the Juvenile Instructor was in town and decided to stop by for a chat.  It was instant bonhomie.  We fell quite naturally into the posture of old friends catching up after a long spell apart.  These experiences may be evidence of the pre-existence or, I suppose, of reincarnation.  I don’t know.)

My belief that love submerges is part and parcel of my belief in the hereafter.  Everything is brought to the surface there.  The deep places become smooth.  Our capacity to pay attention is greatly increased, perhaps infinitely, and all the moments of our lives become present to us.  The increase in attention means an increase in joy.  And the increase increases.  New relationships, new children, new creations, worlds without end.

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