You asked me what love is, and I will tell you. It is a simple thing. Love is choice. The act of choosing other above self. Sacrifice. But simple as it may be, it is not easy. Because love does not, cannot, live in isolation. Love requires a base from which to take flight. It needs a nest in which to land. What does love look like you ask? That is a longer tale to tell. But let me paint a portrait of one I have seen.
It is a portrait of souls on an open field on a coast of pain. Committed. One laden with another, stooped, struggling, stumbling. Back exposed, helmet slouched, weapons useless. Defiant. Racing at a crawl; betting the house. Reckless. It’s wounds upon wounds; it’s just... One More Step It is a picture held high, gilt framed, honoured, respected, adored. It is a picture of love for mate, for kindred.
It’s a photo of eyes of a man looking out from the face of a boy. Haunted. Spent bodies sprawled in narrow ditches; some wrapped in tatters of green, others striped in white. Disillusioned. Cigarettes shared, letters devoured, weapons held close. Exhausted. Dirt, sweat, and blood combine and coat, erasing the demarcation of denomination. United. It is a picture faded with age, cherished to fabric. A snapshot of love: for country, for home.
It is an image of hands that serve, save and yet are useless for all but giving solace. Comfort. In stillness and silence, sitting through the night accompanying agony, without resources, without judgment, without answers. Companion. Deciding to stay, given the option to go. Covenanted. It is a picture kept in an inner pocket, private, protected, prized. It is a painting of love; for a stranger, for a neighbour.
It is an epitaph scribed onto a generational heart. Forfeit. Instantly in the blink of an eye, in the snap of a wire… a breath. Instinct. Remaining true and suffering hardships, in full knowledge of what is to come. Surrender. Exchanging places, foregoing freedom, offering life for a life. It is the highest, hardest and most honest model of love; for others, at the cost of self.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.John 15:12-13
Giving thanks for the sacrifice of so many this ANZAC day. Lest we forget…