I wrote these words about true love and the divine a long, long time ago but a friend remembered and posted them this morning for Valentine’s Day, so I thought I’d share them with you to read or hear.
There is no tooth fairy.
There was no Saint Valentine,
patron saint of chocolate companies and florists,
but I don’t care.
I’ll buy a big red satin card,
embroidered with a silken rose,
stuffed with rhyme or purple prose,
and send it in the post, sealed with a kiss,
I’ll have a candlelit dinner for one,
with white-suited waiters attending my needs,
pouring champagne into fluted glasses.
I’ll order two of their finest meals,
and eat them both.
After my binge of kitsch and caviar,
love and lurve and lovely naughties,
I’ll sleep it off for days, as candles turn to ashes,
and the season of romance becomes the sullen month of Lent.
Then, where will I find love,
as dark nights linger and cold constricts the tender buds?
There are plenty of people willing to advise.
I love the ones who ask questions,
who sit by the fire with you and a glass of whiskey and wonder.
(whoever, and whatever and wherever God is)
(How does God love?
Does he wait by a cinema for someone who has stood him up?
Does she sit by the bed of a sister with measles?
Does he wait up all night for a daughter to come home, not sleeping, and never mention it?
Does she weep for the love of a child she can never have?
Does he sit by the phone and wait for it to ring?
Does she fall with another, tumbling, into intimacy?
Does he keep going, keep talking, keep loving,
although he’s rejected, and battered and tearful?
Who does God kiss?)
‘For God so loved the world
(…all of it. Every sparrow falling.
Me, here and a centurion marching.
Me and a leader in the Taliban.
Me and a sex tourist in Thailand. Me and Rose West.
Me and you and the person sitting closest to us,
and a research scientist setting out for base camp
across the crystal danger of the Arctic.
Me and the mad bloke on the bus.
And the bank manager.
And my mum, although she’d never say it.
The world. As seen from space.
As seen from close enough to count the hairs in a nostril).
For God (whoever she is)
loved (whatever that means)
the world (wherever we experience it)
so much that he gave
(Can God let go?
Can she who holds creation in the palm of her hand just relax
and let it drop?
Or is it like a gift, a passing on? Like chocolates, or smallpox.
From her to us. To do with what you will,
like the boy who breaks his bike on Christmas morning;
like the girl more fascinated by the box her Barbie came in)
His only son
(Did God have a daughter?
And a nephew? Did God have a Godson?)
a beautiful, bouncing boy,
handed over to be stoned
and taunted and spoiled and beaten and broken,
while his loving, painfully loving,
all-powerful father looked on helpless?
I don’t believe it.
I don’t understand it.
I can’t be sure if the stories are true.
Still yet, they speak to me somehow.
I like the thought that someone cares, someone knows my name.
Someone sends a Valentine,
coming through the long slow post of Lent,
delivered on a Sunday.
Someone, something, holds out their arms to save me like a lifeguard,
like a higher rate deposit account,
like I am something worth saving.
Sometimes, when I look into the eyes of my friends,
and I hear the things they say on their good days –
the accidental wisdom,
and the way they are with their children,
and the way they try to live –
I see why it might be so.
I can almost believe it,
and I’m grateful.
True Love poem copyright Cole Moreton
Refers to the words of John 3:16 in the Bible: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son …”
Thanks to Paul Chambers for remembering