Valentine’s Day comes with a built-in writing prompt. The topic: L-O-V-E. Nat King Cole starts to sing/spell the song in my head. My hazy memory of the lyrics soon brings a halt to the music. Nothing rushes in to take its place. A lone cricket chirps in the silence between my ears.
I wait for inspiration. The first class of a day is Math. No inspiration here. The room is subdued as they review for the quiz on Thursday. The teacher asks a question that is answered by: “Integer Coefficient.” There in the letters on the whiteboard my topic has appeared. Love is like an integer coefficient.
I don’t really understand what an integer coefficient is but then again I can’t say that I really understand love either. Integers are whole numbers not fractions. An integer coefficient is the whole number that appears in front of a variable in an algebraic equation.
Integers are not fractions and neither is a love relationship. A love based on fractions is a broken thing and not love at all. Love is best when it is an expression between whole people. The fractured parts of ourselves make love difficult.
Love, the integer comes before the variable in an algebraic expression. Love does indeed come before the variables life tosses at us. When establishing a committed love relationship, we don’t know what the future may hold. Love in front of these unknown variables must become part of the solution if love is to survive..
I know that comparing love to an integer coefficient isn’t very romantic but then again love isn’t always romantic either. Hearts and flowers and boxes of chocolate are nice but if everyday was full of them they would no longer be special or good expressions of sentiment.
The comparison between love and integer coefficients has gotten difficult to sustain. Maybe trying to find love in unexpected places is more to the point. Fancy comparisons and eloquent words can never capture the essence of love. Love is in the action. It is in the 1000 choices we make every day. It isn’t in what we say as much as in how we say it. It isn’t in the promises we make but in how we keep them.
Words much better than these were written centuries ago. I leave them with you now. 1 Corinthians 13:1-8
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never falls. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.