“. . . yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also” (Luke 2:35).
NEVER HAVING BEEN A WOMAN OR A MOTHER, I CANNOT IMAGINE THE BITTERSWEET JOY AND SORROW OF MARY, THE MOTHER OF JESUS. To be the mother of the Christ, the Savior, must have been a joy beyond what even other mothers could comprehend. And yet, when the most special Child ever born was still a baby, she was told, “A sword will pierce through your own soul also.” Having loved this Son as no other human being could, imagine her torment as she stood at the foot of the cross. There is no love without sorrow — and the greater the love, the greater the sorrow.
To love is to know the sorrow of not being loved by someone whose love you long for. Love, at least between human beings, is risky business. When you love someone, there is no guarantee they will feel the same way about you. As we all learned in elementary school, “When you like someone and they don’t like you back, it hurts.” No one has ever found any good way around that pain.
To love is to know the sorrow of losing the love of someone you love. This is a more serious sorrow than the first. To have loved someone and been loved by them, and then to experience the ending of that love, either by death or some other circumstance, is a sorrow that mere words cannot describe. Yet we must sooner or later say goodbye to all of our loves in this world — even the best of them.
To love is to know the sorrow of giving up joy so that the one you love may have joy. With this third sorrow, we come to the most poignant sorrow in the world. This, of course, was the sorrow that Jesus was doomed to suffer in His love for us. He could not have had the joy of His love for us without the sorrow of giving up His life. And so it often is among those of us who love one another. Love will lead us to die, if it means that our beloved can live.
To love, then, is to open ourselves to the possibility of one or the other — and sometimes all three — of these sorrows. Yet what shall we say? Shall we not love? I know not what choice others may make, but I shall continue to keep my heart open to love. Even at the bitterest ending of love’s sweetness, there is no grief great enough to keep me from the clear, pure joy of having loved.
“Those who have the courage to love should have the courage to suffer” (Anthony Trollope).