I’m reading All About Love by bell hooks. She ends the preface with this statement, “When we love we can let our hearts speak.” That one sentence pulls me into bell’s world and her thoughts about love.
I never gave much consideration to how we talk about love. The topic seems innate to who we are as humans. From bell, I realized that, in fact, we “are relatively silent about love.” By remaining silent, we protect ourselves from uncertainty because we want to know love.
The problem we face is that while we learn the importance of love, its failure bombards us in movies, books, and the news. Even more tragic, many of us have little understanding of what love looks like.
A Definition of Love
As bell delves into the topic, she discovers no adequate definition for love. Her research leads her to M. Scott Peck’s, The Road Less Traveled where Peck builds on the work of Erich Fromm.
Peck defines love as “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.”
Love is as love does. Love is an act of will—namely both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love. —M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled
Let that sink in. I had to stop reading to reflect on the implications of that definition. Later, bell clarifies that Peck’s use of the word spiritual refers to the union of the mind, body, and spirit. She describes it as a life force that builds our capacity “to engage in communion with the world around us.”When we make love a verb, bell sets the stage for viewing love differently.
To begin by always thinking of love as an action rather than a feeling is one way in which anyone using the word in this manner automatically assumes accountability and responsibility…We also accept that our actions have consequences.
This year, my husband and I will celebrate 50 years of marriage. I can tell you with certainty that love is a verb. Peck’s definition describes the partnership we created. The road we traveled had its share of challenges, disappointments, and unexpected turns. But through it all, we held extended ourselves for the purpose of nurturing one another’s spiritual growth.