DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Book of Love

Written by: on February 11, 2021

Love can be the cause of a universe of pain. Dorothy Day, in her book The Long Loneliness, speaks of her life of love, with intimate detail. The men in her life, her faith, social justice and her child are beautiful stories of true love in her life. In her stories of love, her stories of loneliness are birthed.

Love is a risky thing between people. It is so much easier to love things like sunsets, and puddle-jumping and puppies. When I was a child, I remember falling in love with the sight of bioluminescence on summer nights. I had no idea what was going on in the water to cause such a miracle of light. I remember wading through the shallows and watching stars twinkling by my feet, and explosions of light in the splash of rocks. It was magical, and I could feel love igniting within me.

The offering of love is a sacred thing. True love offers an opening to the soul which requires a certain reverence, because the soul gives testimony and a welcome to ‘home’. Simone Weil writes a basic observation that ‘the soul is the human being considered as having value in itself’ [1]. Having concern for the one loved, the one offering love, is both essential and healthy. Further, accepting love authentically is to offer love genuinely. Love, otherwise, is an easy target to be exploited. The ‘soul’ of a person is not something to meddle with. A confounded soul, in the story of grievous violation, is well-known to God-who-draws-near ‘to the broken-hearted’, who saves those who are ‘crushed in spirit’ [2].

Dorothy Day loved her man though ‘he was an anarchist and an atheist’; she could not imagine leaving him [3]. With Forster, and later with their child, Day experienced a kind of contentedness. She referred to it as a ‘peace, curiously enough, divided against itself’ [4]. There’s a ‘home’ that the peace she felt was only a semblance of. She reflected deeply into her happiness, ‘that there was a greater happiness to be obtained from life than any I had ever known’ [5]. She was being called back into love with God. I wonder how that made Forster feel?

Dorothy mentions, ‘it was killing me the thought of leaving him’ [6]. She ponders Forster’s bitterness in this beautiful and divisive moment of righteous clarity, ‘Why should not Forster be jealous? Any man who did not participate in this love would, of course, realise my infidelity, my adultery’ [7]. (From memoir to memoir now, hopefully not too-abruptly or without relevance…)

I remember when someone I loved was leaving me. The reasoning seemed unchangeable/immoveable, hearing the stories and rumours left me in a tremble of confusion; the movement was haunting. The vectoring off wasn’t toward God, the nature of Day’s ‘leaving’. Regardless, be it God or some thing or someone else, the feeling of one leaving can be ‘like death’; the experience can feel so deeply wrong that the soul of person can feel shaken, as if an ‘original integrity’ has been disrupted*. This weeping wound remains, the prospect it seems, irreparable with intention. I could not have learned of pain, in this body, in a more brutal way. Rejection is not an easy feeling for the soul’s being, within a sensitive body.

The act of leaving someone-once-loved behind, or to reject (move on from) someone for lack of adherence to a specified conformity or for being ‘less than’ optimal in ways, THIS – MUST – TAKE – SOME – COURAGE, an act not without some (though, perhaps with slightly less) pain to it (for care and empathy)**. Forster was not ‘the end of it’ for Dorothy, as she pilgrimed back into the Bosom. She writes of another love that she was inspired to veer away from in this time of awakening, that being the life she had led in ‘the radical movement’ [8]. From the birth of her child, to the whisper of God who creates and recreates, the tide was changing, a new day forming in which God would be the center of her life, her passion, her radical devotion and resolute activism for the oppressed. This was the revolution of the heart of Dorothy Day.

‘It is a terrible thought – “we love God as much as the one we love the least.”’ [9]

 

Bibliography

1. Simon Weil, An Anthology (London, England: Penguin Books, 2005), 294.
2. Ps. 34:18 (NIV).
3. Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness (New York, NY: HarpersCollins Publishers, 1952), 148.
4. Day, The Long Loneliness, 116.
5. Day, The Long Loneliness, 116.
6. Day, The Long Loneliness, 148.
7. Day, The Long Loneliness, 149.
8. Day, The Long Loneliness, 149.
9. Dorothy Day, The Reckless Way of Love (Walden, NY: Plough Publishing House, 2017), 36.

* For some reason, at this point I’m reminded of Taleb’s rule, ‘Thou shalt not have anti-fragility at the expense of another person’s fragility.’

**for lack of care and empathy in the exploitative meddling with another’s story, narcissism.

About the Author

mm

Chris Pollock

Dad of Molly Polly Pastor at the Mustard Seed Street Church Trail Runner

4 responses to “The Book of Love”

  1. mm John McLarty says:

    As you reflect on Day’s choice to leave a relationship with your own experience of being left, how does the love she found in God beckon to those who have felt the sting of loss?

    • mm Chris Pollock says:

      Great question, John.

      It kinda depends on whether or not ‘the left one’ has a relationship with God or not.

      If so, simple, the 1 Kings 19:12 ‘whisper’. If decidedly not, then things can get a little dicey.

  2. mm Darcy Hansen says:

    To love is to grieve- they are intricately linked within the cells of our humanity. Grief and loss, when integrated into our being, draws us closer to the Love of God. It isn’t just something we get over, but rather something we embody and carry with us. It sounds like Day was able to take her deepest loves and deepest griefs and meld them in a way that pulled her ever closer to the heart of God. Such transformative love compels us to live revolutionary lives, to sit with the hurting, the suffering, the broken. How has the painful death of your relationship shaped you? In what ways has that grief been integrated into your life and is your experience of the love of God different than it was before that loss?

  3. mm Greg Reich says:

    Chris,
    I find it interesting how society has turn the concept of love into something that is primarily sexual or something that’s nonchalant instead. Without an understanding that a big part of love is sacrificial in nature many relationships prove to be shallow.

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