The King and Queen of Valentines

HEART W. GOLD ARROW

I’ve shared this true story previously on my blog. However, since it is, without a doubt, the quintessential love story, I believe it has a right to be repeated as we celebrate this year’s Valentine’s Day. It takes a look at two of the world’s greatest lovers who have much to teach us about loving and communicating that love generously.

First, let me lay just a little foundation from “The Book.” God’s Word says all of the Ten Commandments of Jehovah are fulfilled in living our lives in genuine love. It also says that fear is cast out of our hearts and our lives by love. And, most important of all, it tells us repeatedly that the God we serve is Love. He’s what it’s all about, and He’s the source of all genuine love. But when the Word talks about love, it’s referring to much more than just an emotion. Certainly, the emotion is important – and extremely satisfying. But the love that really makes a difference in this world is love that does something.

Love, according to the original language of the scriptures, is the fulfilling of a duty or a responsibility to another – whether to God or to the people in our lives. It works good toward another person whether it ‘feels’ something or not. The truth is that feelings of love – like feelings of anger, happiness, hurt, etc. – come and go. But the act of loving another person is fueled by that deliberate intent of the will to do them good. Like faith, real love is more of an action verb than a noun.

I’m grateful that in my life I have known a great many people who love in this active way. But every time I ponder the subject of love – and especially around Valentine’s Day, when people are prone to send little ‘love letters’ to each other in the way of commercial Valentine cards – my mind turns to two particular lovers of the past who knew and experienced the power of love to change people’s lives completely.

Poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning lived one of the most powerful and life-changing love stories ever experienced by human beings. Much of their poetry, especially Sonnets from the Portuguese, describes that love and the power it had to overcome enormous obstacles, and to vanquish debilitating sorrow and hovering death. While the best remembered and most often quoted lines from all of those sonnets are the words, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” the truth is that some of the most riveting portions are Elizabeth’s descriptions of how that love destroyed death and renewed her life. In Sonnet VII she says this:

“The face of all the world is changed, I think,
Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul
Move still, oh, still, beside me as they stole
Betwixt me and the dreadful outer bring
Of obvious death, where I, who thought to sink
Was caught up into love and taught the whole
Of life in a new rhythm . . . .”

In truth, it was that love that literally saved Elizabeth’s life and gave both lovers many happy years of marriage and fruitful writing that blessed the world for generations. It also gave them a son, whom they loved dearly.

But something many people do not know is that prior to their marriage, Elizabeth and Robert courted, primarily by letter, for a period of 20 months. During that 20 months, they exchanged a total of 574 love letters. Think of it: 574 love letters! In 20 months, that is an average of more than 28 letters each month. Never running out of ways to say “I love you,” and never growing tired of manifesting that love openly. It’s no wonder I consider them the kind and queen of valentines.

And what about you, dear readers? Have you experienced the joy of seeing love give life to those who need it? My Valentine’s wish for each of you this year is that you will experience that reality –whether for the first time or the hundredth.

And, by the way, does the person you love know without a doubt how you feel about him – or her? This time of year offers a great opportunity to make sure. Grab some inspiration from Elizabeth and Robert and make a little extra effort this week to show your love in generous ways.

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Love Letters: 574 and counting

ROW OF HEARTS - SEPIA - FLOW RIGHT

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
. . .
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passions put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
. . .
And if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.”

(Sonnet # 43, Sonnets from the Portuguese, Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

As I type the words onto this page, the month of February, the ‘Month of Love’ is in full swing. Valentine’s Day – and all the trimmings! Yes, whether we’re in the mood or not, we are going to be surrounded all month by reminders that it is a good thing to love. This article is my attempt to take a look at two of the world’s greatest lovers and learn what they have to teach us on the subject.

First, let me lay just a little foundation from “The Book.” God’s Word says all of the Ten Commandments of Jehovah are fulfilled in living our lives in genuine love. It also says that fear is cast out of our hearts and our lives by love. And, most important of all, it tells us repeatedly that the God we serve is Love. He’s what it’s all about, and He’s the source of all genuine love. But when the Word talks about love, it’s referring to much more than just an emotion. Certainly, the emotion is important – and extremely satisfying. But the love that really makes a difference in this world is love that does something.

Love, according to the original language of the scriptures, is the fulfilling of a duty or a responsibility to another – whether to God or to the people in our lives. It works good toward another person whether it ‘feels’ something or not. The truth is that feelings of love – like feelings of anger, happiness, hurt, etc. – come and go. But the act of loving another person is fueled by that deliberate intent of the will to do them good. Like faith, real love is more of an action verb than a noun.

I’m grateful that in my life I have known a great many people who love in this active way. But every time I ponder the subject of love – and especially around Valentine’s Day, when people are prone to send little ‘love letters’ to each other in the way of commercial Valentine cards – my mind turns to two particular lovers of the past who knew and experienced the power of love to change people’s lives completely.

Poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning lived one of the most powerful and life-changing love stories ever experienced by human beings. Much of their poetry, especially Sonnets from the Portuguese, describes that love and the power it had to overcome enormous obstacles, and to vanquish debilitating sorrow and hovering death. While the best remembered and most often quoted lines from all of those sonnets are the words, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” the truth is that some of the most riveting portions are Elizabeth’s descriptions of how that love destroyed death and renewed her life. In Sonnet VII she says this:

“The face of all the world is changed, I think,
Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul
Move still, oh, still, beside me as they stole
Betwixt me and the dreadful outer brink
Of obvious death, where I, who thought to sink
Was caught up into love and taught the whole
Of life in a new rhythm . . . .”

In truth, it was that love that literally saved Elizabeth’s life and gave both lovers many happy years of marriage and fruitful writing that blessed the world for generations. It also gave them a son, whom they loved dearly.

But prior to their marriage, Elizabeth and Robert courted, primarily by letter, for a period of 20 months. During that 20 months, they exchanged a total of 574 love letters. Think of it: 574 love letters! In 20 months, that is an average of more than 28 letters each month. Never running out of ways to say “I love you,” and never growing tired of manifesting that love openly.

Have you, dear readers, experienced the joy of seeing that love gives life to those who need it? My Valentine’s wish for each of you is that you will experience that reality.

And, by the way, does the person you love know without a doubt how you feel? Why not take advantage of this ‘Month of Love’ to make sure?

~ ~ ~

Blessed Invasion

Most of my life I have been enthralled with the theme of Elizabeth Barrett’s poems that speak to Robert of how his love saved her from death.   Being a poet myself, I decided one day that I would like to re-affirm that theme in a piece of my own creation. The sonnet is not my personal forte (although I have written one or two over the years) so I have not tried to emulate that particular medium.  But I decided to try to express in my more comfortable style of verse what I believe is the substance of what Elizabeth and Robert experienced together, as well as what I believe to be the root source of that substance.

BLESSED INVASION

Invaded by pure Love, Death must submit,
And bow its ugly head and bend its knee.
As the target of a perfect marksman must take the hit,
So Death, in spite of struggling, had to set me free.
Though pressing down to close my coffin lid,
Death was thrust back by power: your love for me.

King Jesus led the way in warring thus.
He came with love so pure it pierced the gloom.
And taking on Himself the curse sin brought to us,
He opened up the way to enter our own tomb,
And facing Death, He said, “Your time is up.
My love strikes death to Death. Now Life will bloom.”

Even so, He seems to’ve passed His love to you,
And coming now upon me, frail and spent,
You have not wasted time in wondering what to do,
But instantly to my own lifeless heart you bent,
And kissed my lips with love as with sweet dew,
Dissolving Death. Now Life arises — permanent!

© Sandra Conner 2009

Photo: Jon, pdphoto.com

 


Love Letters: 574 and counting . . .

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
. . .
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passions put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
. . .
And if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

(Sonnet # 43, Sonnets from the Portuguese, Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

As I type the words onto this page, the month of February, the ‘Month of Love’ has just blossomed. Valentine’s Day – and all the trimmings! Yes, whether we’re in the mood or not, we are going to be surrounded all month by reminders that it is a good thing to love.

The Word of God says that all of the Ten Commandments of Jehovah are fulfilled in living our lives in genuine love. It also says that fear is cast out of our hearts and our lives by love. And, most important of all, it tells us repeatedly that the God we serve is Love. He’s what it’s all about, and He’s the source of all genuine love. But when the Word talks about love, it’s referring to much more than just an emotion. Certainly, the emotion is important – and extremely satisfying. But the love that really makes a difference in this world is love that does something.

Love, according to the original language of the scriptures, is the fulfilling of a duty or a responsibility to another – whether to God or to the people in our lives. It works good toward another person whether it ‘feels’ something or not. The truth is that feelings of love – like feelings of anger, happiness, hurt, etc. – come and go. But the act of loving another person is fueled by that deliberate intent of the will to do them good. Like faith, real love is more of an action verb than a noun.

I’m grateful that in my life I have known a great many people who love in this active way. But every time I ponder the subject of love – and especially around Valentine’s Day, when people are prone to send little ‘love letters’ to each other in the way of commercial Valentine cards – my mind turns to two lovers of the past who knew and experienced the power of love to change people’s lives completely.

Poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning lived one of the most powerful and life-changing love stories ever experienced by human beings. Much of their poetry, especially “Sonnets from the Portuguese,” describes that love and the power it had to overcome enormous obstacles, and to vanquish debilitating sorrow and hovering death. While the best remembered and most often quoted lines from all of those sonnets are the words, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” the truth is that some of the most riveting portions are Elizabeth’s descriptions of how that love destroyed death and renewed her life. In Sonnet VII she says this:

“The face of all the world is changed, I think,
Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul
Move still, oh, still, beside me as they stole
Betwixt me and the dreadful outer bring
Of obvious death, where I, who thought to sink
Was caught up into love and taught the whole
Of life in a new rhythm . . . .”

In truth, it was that love that literally saved Elizabeth’s life and gave both lovers many happy years of marriage and fruitful writing that blessed the world for generations. It also gave them a son, whom they loved dearly.

But prior to their marriage, Elizabeth and Robert courted, primarily by letter, for a period of 20 months. During that 20 months, they exchanged a total of 574 love letters. Think of it: 574 love letters! In 20 months, that is an average of more than 28 letters each month. Never running out of ways to say “I love you,” and never growing tired of manifesting that love openly.

Have you, dear readers, experienced the joy of seeing that love gives life to those who need it? My Valentine’s wish for each of you is that you will experience that reality.

And, by the way, does the person you love know without a doubt how you feel? Why not take advantage of this ‘Month of Love’ to make sure?