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Sunday, 31 August 2014

Love, love, love!

The Bliss of Heaven

On another occasion Stead asks Julia, "What is it, for instance, which makes heaven so much better than earth?"

She wrote — There are degrees in Heaven. And the lowest heaven is higher than the most wonderful vision of its bliss that you ever had. There is nothing to which you can compare our constantly loving state in this world except the supreme beatitude of the lover who is perfectly satisfied with and perfectly enraptured with the one whom he loves. For the whole difference between this side and your side consists in this—without entering now into the question of body and matter—that we live in love, which is God, and you too often live in the misery which is the natural, necessary result of the absence of God, who is love.

There is much love on earth. Were it not so it would be hell. There is the mother's love for her children; of brother and sister; of young man and maiden; of husband and wife; of friends, whether men or women, or whether the friendship is between those of the same sex. All these forms of love are the rays of heaven in earth. They are none of them complete. They are the sparkling light from the diamond facets, the totality of which is God. The meanest man or woman who loves is, so far as they love, inspired by the Divine. The whole secret of the saving of the world lies in that—you must have more love—more love—more love.

You may say that there is a love which is selfish and a love which is evil. It is true, but that is because the love is imperfect. It is not love when it leads to selfishness. The love which leads a mother to engross herself with her own children and neglect all her duties to other people is not wrong itself. It is only because she does not have enough love for others that her love for her children makes her selfish. The great need wherever love seems to make people selfish is not less love for those whom they do love, but more love for the others who are neglected. You never love anyone too much. It is only that we don't love others enough also. Perfect love all around is the Divine ideal, and when love fails at any point, then evil is in danger of coming in. But even a guilty love, so far as it takes you out of yourself, and makes you toil, and pray, and live, and perhaps die for the man or woman whom you should never have loved, brings you nearer Heaven than selfish, loveless marriage. I do not say this as against marriage. I know you think that this is a dangerous doctrine. All true doctrine is dangerous, but is not less true for its danger. There is no doubt that much so-called love is very selfish, and is not love at all. The love, for instance, which leads a man to ruin a woman, and desert her when he has gratified a temporary passion, is not love. It is not easy to distinguish it from the deadliest hate. It is self-indulgence in its worst shape. Now, all love is of the nature of self-sacrifice. There are many things also to be borne in mind. We have all not merely to think what is the result to ourselves, but also to other persons, some of whom may not yet be born. To love, therefore, anyone really, truly, means that we are putting ourselves in his place, loving him as ourselves; that we desire for him the best, and give up ourselves and our own pleasure in order to secure it for him. This is true love, and wherever you find it you find a spark of God. That is why mothers are so much nearer God than anyone else. They love more—that is, they are more like God; it is they who keep the earth from becoming a vast hell.

Now, my darling, hold fast to this central doctrine — Love is God, God is Love. The more you love, the more you are like God. It is only when we deeply, truly love, we find our true selves, or that we see the Divine in the person loved. O Ellen, Ellen! if I could come back and speak in the ears of the children of men, I think I should wish to say nothing but this—Love! Love is the fulfilling of the law, love is the seeing of the face of God. Love is God, God is Love. If you wish to be with God—love. If you wish to be in heaven—love! For Heaven differs chiefly from earth and from hell in that in heaven all love up to the full measure of their being, and all growth in grace is growth in love. Love! love! love! That is the first word and the last word. There is none beside that, for God, who is love, is all in all, the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, world without end. Oh, my darling Ellen, this is indeed a true word. It is the Word which the world needs, it is the Word which became flesh and dwelt amongst men—Love, love, love!