I could not have been very old, perhaps between 8 and 10. It was a hot summer day. I know this because we had moved my mattress from the bedframe upstairs down into the living room so that I could enjoy the comfort of the air conditioning that we only had on the ground floor of our house. We had watched Sleeping Beauty that night, the old Disney animated version with the sweeping music and striking colours. I liked Merriweather best, she seemed like me: little and awkward, with a peppery temper and always a bit behind the other two. When my mom sat down beside me to say goodnight, she tried to explain to me that love in real life isn’t like love in the movies. It doesn’t happen like that. I don’t think I quite understood what she meant. I remember responding, “but I would like to fall in love some day.” We were both right – love in real life is almost nothing like love in an old Disney film, but almost everyone seems to want to fall in love one day anyway!
Perhaps it started that night, I don’t really know, but at least from my early teenage years I had an active mental relationship with the concept of love, what it is/was and whether the feelings I occassionally cherished towards one male or another qualified as ‘love’ or were merely something embarrassingly childish like a “crush.” As I got older and into my first serious relationship I discovered some of the more physical aspects of ‘love.’ When that relationship ended, I had many more questions than I had started with, and spent the next eight years or so trying to sort out what exactly was the ‘love’ that I so longed for, how that squared with the meanings of love I had been taught in church (philios, eros, agape), whether it was possible to have enough love in my life without a significant other and what the heck sex had to do with it all (or didn’t, as the case may be).
Recently thoughts on this topic have been surfacing again, and I decided it was an excellent opportunity to create another blog series. I have chosen the title “Faceting Love” for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was the best title I could hit on that didn’t sound twee, cliched or otherwise overused. Secondly, I wished it to be short and simple, yet make one think. I considered “facets of love,” but it didn’t have the right emphasis. The phrase functions as a noun and thus suggests something factual and instructive. I prefer a phrase that functions as a verb suggesting active and ongoing engagement with a topic.
The word “faceting” is the verb form of “facet” and describes the act of cutting faces in a gem, presenting new sides to view and enhancing the overall beauty of the object. Conceptually the number of possible facets is endless, and each artisan would cut a slightly different one. This image resonates when me when applied to the concept of love – surely one of the most complicated of all concepts. The word seems to have an endless semantic range and aspects of meaning that vary among cultures, religions and individuals. Love is also precious and regarded by many as the most important and most powerful human force.
Over the next few weeks I will be cutting a few faces on the gem of love, and sharing my thoughts with you all. I will draw on some biblical ideas, some of my own insights and history, and anything else that takes my fancy. Enjoy!