Elijah, our conversation about love fell short. It missed the boat.
What boat? Were you playing in my bathtub?
No, it’s an expression. To miss the boat means our discussion fell short.
What’s wrong with that? I’m short. So are you, Grandpa!
Elijah talking with Grandpa about love.
No. Not that kind of short, Elijah. Lots of people are short. Again, it’s just an expression. It means it didn’t quite get where I should have taken the conversation.
Yeah, I love expressions. Let’s stick with expressions. I’m too little for adult conversation.
Well, that’s what I want to talk about. You’re still little, but your view of yourself and the world is being shaped every day by the adult world, and my answer to your question fell short.
Did you fall again, Grandpa? I heard a noise but I didn’t know you fell! You should be more careful on those stairs. Like Grandma says all the time, you should tie your shoelaces!
Okay. No, Grandpa didn’t fall. I mean we never got to the deeper meanings of love. I slipped by stopping short of introducing you to the deeper philosophical meanings of love. I left you with the impression that love is attraction. We never got to agápē. Our culture suffers from a very shallow concept of love.
Oh, boy! Here we go! You’re going to get all philosophical and stuff. Just like Aunt Bonnie says, sometimes you talk over our heads! She hates philosophy. People don’t like that, Grandpa. Grandma says that’s why you retired from preaching. You were missing the boat of clear communication. Grandma was hoping you’d finally tied those shoelaces when you hung up your boots to retire. You didn’t. That’s why you’re still falling!
Aha! You just made my point, Elijah! That’s because Grandma loves me! She doesn’t just love me romantically. That kind of love is eros. She demonstrates agápē love, the highest form of love. It’s the form of love that is unconditional, like the love of God for us. It doesn’t depend on pleasant circumstances. It takes sacrifices to live with me. Big ones! I’m a lot to put up with, Elijah! Every day Grandma goes the second mile.
What’s a mile? If you go there twice, does it make you philosophical?
Yes, it does. Philosophy is wisdom, Elijah. It’s the love of wisdom. All forms of love are important. Philia is important. Eros is important. And agápē is important. They’re all part of who we are as the children of God, grandchildren and grandparents, cousins like you and Calvin, husbands and wives, and neighbors, but, like Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, agápē is the greatest of them all.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love (agapēseis) your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love (agapāte) your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven; for God makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?
— Matthew 5:43-46
Wow, Grandpa! That’s really hard. That doesn’t miss the boat! That’s really philosophical. So…Grandma already has her reward! I want to be like Grandma. Did Jesus get to retire from preaching, like you?
Sermon on the Mount — Carl Bloch [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Grandpa Gordon, Chaska, MN, January 8, 2018.