“Emerson said ‘Do you love me’ means ‘Do you see the truth I see?’ Or at least,” C.S. Lewis added, “do you care about that truth as I do.”
I only recently tripped upon this quote from Lewis’ The Four Loves, though he is one of my favorite writers. Do you have moments when reading a book, or even just a sentence, crystallizes an idea or brings something in your life into such sharp focus that it is like you understand it for the first time? This sentence was one of those ‘ah ha’ life perspective moments. It made me think. And like many thoughts, it wasn’t totally a brand new perspective, more a clarifying confirmation.
You see Doug and I fell in love this way. And my husband, the son of an F.B.I. Special Agent, asked me that question…and a lot of others. Part of how we fell in love was by a discussion of what ‘truth’ was to each of us.
Our love story is an enduring one, a very happy one, and probably a different one. I’m not sure. Tolstoy said, “Happy families are all alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I wonder if that is true for marriages. Do happy marriages have at root something held in common? I am sure not everyone falls in love by spending hours discussing the meaning of life, but to have a marriage that lasts perhaps a couple must have a shared definition of what will make their lives meaningful.
The best explanation of this may come from another quote by C.S. Lewis, “Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even…’vision’…which others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”
You see Lewis found Friendship to be one of the Four loves. Philios. And Doug is not only my husband. He is my best friend. Those hours of discussion as we fell in love were full of ‘you too’ moments.
We met at the International Club at the University of Buffalo. The first time was also Doug’s birthday. He came to meet a friend and ended up meeting me. He was interested. He says he knew from the first minute he was going to marry me. I didn’t. At least not until we met for the second time.
We come from such opposite experiences. Doug is from the quintessential American family: WASP, Scots English with a wild Irishman or two and a French Huguenot thrown in, related to John Adams and General Jubal Early, and having a grandmother in the D.A.R. I am ethnic, 100% Polish, was Catholic, the granddaughter of immigrants who didn’t come to America until the early 1900s. Doug’s family was Leave It To Beaver, mine The War of the Roses.
But despite our seemingly insurmountable differences, what we shared was more important. Both of us felt out of place in the world; we marched to the beat of a different drum, a different truth. More important it was the same truth: that the two of us felt we were put into the world to try to leave it a better place, that God had a purpose for us, a call to reach out to others, and we wanted to live it. To Dream the Impossible Dream… together.
The reality is we fulfill that call in often different ways, individually and together. He is a minister. I am a social worker and teacher. We are both good counselors. He reads philosophy and theology. I read novels and epic fantasy. We both read essays. He is a computer nut while I love gardening and cooking. (Well, he does love eating!) He won me over by playing the guitar and singing, I wooed him by letting him read my poetry. But both of us have an inner compass that points to the same truth. That truth, and our shared beliefs, has been the star that has led us.
On the second day we spent together we discussed the meaning of life, and we knew in that moment we would spend our lives together. It has always seemed miraculous. It was certainly powerful, intense, and virtually instantaneous. And we both felt it was something ordained to be, a part of God’s plan for us, but not something easily understood by anyone other than us. At least I thought that until I read Lewis’ quote. Certainly he and J.R.R. Tolkien found shared truth in their friendship, in their writing, in their faith, and as “fellow travelers” on their life journeys.
So if you have read this far at least some of this must make sense to you as it does for me, whether about the loves or friendships in your lives. For those of you who haven’t read this book, I’ll close with a final quote from The Four Loves: “Friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauty of the other.” If you are one of my friends, I thank you for sharing your beauty with me. If you are an as yet unmet acquaintance, this may be the moment we discover a shared truth. And for all of you reading this, I wish that in the year ahead you find friendship and love, shared truth and blessings.
- 30 Quotes on Friendship (psychologytoday.com)