In everyday life, falling in love doesn’t need much practical help for getting started. It seems to just happen. Falling in love seems easy. Upon reflection, however, falling in love does have some elements we can learn from in our desires for the weeks ahead. And, as we all know, sustaining a loving relationship that leads to self-sacrificing love takes a lot of fidelity.
Think about the experience of falling in love. What allows it to happen? What do we do in the earliest stages of falling in love? Doesn’t it begin with something we call a connection? Perhaps it’s a connection with a total stranger. Something happens in our hearts that lifts our spirits. At the center of the attraction is a discovery of a togetherness in some way. We connect. From then on, the growing attraction is fed by a growing, sometimes insatiable desire to be with the one we love. Growing love feeds the desire for growing union — a desire for ways to be with the other in deeper and deeper ways. In the very beginning this may be quite unconscious, but before very long, we know we are in love. We start acting on that love. We think about, or daydream about, the other while doing all kinds of things. We call the other person more frequently and arrange to spend time together. We remember and replay our conversations. In the beginning, we talk about everything and anything. Nothing about the other person is boring. We want to know about all of the other’s life experiences and choices, the other’s likes and dislikes, and what makes the other the person he or she is. And at each new discovery, there is a deeper bonding. We look for ways to express our love, through tender words, through acts of caring, by going out of our way to help the other. Each expression deepens the love. We always remember the very first gestures of love. And the more the love grows, the more it will lead to some level of commitment — some need to guarantee that the loved one will always be in my life and some commitment to a self-giving offering of myself to the relationship.
If this fits your experience of falling in love in some way, or if it recalls what your experience was, then it will help in a practical way for the weeks ahead. We are in the process of falling in love with Jesus. We can let ourselves feel the growing attraction based on a connectedness. We can let ourselves experience our growing desire to be with Jesus — to ask questions, to express tender words, to spend more time together.
All this is practical help because it is not just an intellectual exercise to ask Jesus to show us his photo album. This is a matter of the heart. By this time in the retreat, we are already deeply connected with Jesus. We now desire to let our relationship go deeper.
The first pages of Jesus’ photo album take us back to the beginning and show us an imaginative scene of the community of the Trinity looking forward through human history and experiencing what we can call only heart-wrenching compassion.
Imagining God’s compassion to send Jesus to our world, to our lives, can be a moving experience. Keep with it. The more we imagine the Sarajevo scenes into which God’s compassion in Jesus reaches, the more we understand who Jesus is. Jesus is for us to a depth beyond our imagining. Jesus enters into our fleshness. Completely. Such vulnerability! In no aspect of my life am I ever alone.
Throughout this week, practice saying these words: “Lord, help me to know you completely that I may love you more intimately, so that I may be with you more completely.” Or you may want to sing the Godspell adaptation of these words of St. Ignatius: “Oh, dear Lord, three things I pray: to see thee more clearly; love thee more dearly; follow thee more nearly — day by day.”
Each evening, before going to bed, for even a brief moment, I can ask what I ought to say to God, to Jesus. And, of course, I can feel and enjoy the inner delight of love growing and the attraction to more.