“Love is not a feeling; it’s a practice”
No, I haven’t yet met the man of my dreams just yet, but I’m thankful to know and to share relationships centered on love.
Last Sunday, my pastor at church cited this bit from Wendell Berry, which I found incredibly real, simple, and powerful. How do we love others? How are our relationships? Are we involved? Are we actively participating? Is it talk? Is it action?
Here’s what the wise farmer, poet, life-liver Wendell Berry has to say in his “Conversations with Wendell Berry”:
“People who love each other need to have something they can do for each other, and it will need to be something necessary, not something frivolous. You can’t carry out a relationship on the basis of Christmas and anniversary and birthday presents. It won’t work.
You have to be doing something that you need help with, and your wife needs to be doing something that she needs help with. You do needful, useful things for each other, and that seems to me to be the way that a union is made…You’re being made a partner by your partner’s needs and the things that you’re required to do to help…Love is not just a feeling; it’s a practice, something you practice whether you feel like it or not. If you have a relationship with anybody – a friend, a family member, a spouse – you have to understand the terms of that relationship to do things for those people, and you do them whether you feel like it or not. If you don’t it’s useless…
This is what you learn as soon as you become a farmer, for instance. Once you get into a relationship with even so much as a vegetable garden, you realize that you have to do the work whether you want to or not. You may have got into it because of love, but there are going to be days when you are sick and you’re going to have to do your work anyway. With animals, the work is even more inescapable. There’s no way out if you have a milk cow, no reprieve…She makes the milk and you’ve got to go get it.”