I do not think we can ever adequately define or understand love; I do not think we were ever meant to. We are meant to participate in love without really comprehending it. We are meant to give ourselves, live ourselves into love’s mystery.
It is the same for all important things in life; there is a mystery within them that our definitions and understandings cannot grasp. Definitions and understandings are images and concepts created by our brains to symbolize what is real. Our thoughts about something are never the thing itself. Further, when we think logically about something, our thoughts come sequentially – one after another. Reality is not confined to such linearity; it keeps happening all at once in each instant. The best our thoughts can do is try to keep a little running commentary in rapid, breathless sequence. . .
A certain asceticism of mind, a gentle intellectual restraint, is needed to appreciate the important things in life. To be open to the truth of love, we must relinquish our frozen comprehensions and begin instead to appreciate. To comprehend is to grasp; to appreciate is to value. Appreciation is gentle seeing, soft acknowledgement, reverent perception. Appreciation can be a pleasant valuing: being awed by a night sky, touched by a symphony, or moved by a caress without needing to understand why. It can also be painful: feeling someone’s suffering, being shocked by loss or disaster without comprehending the reason. Appreciation itself is a kind of love; it is our direct human responsiveness, valuing what we cannot grasp. Love, the life of our heart, is not what we think. It is always ready to surprise us, to take us beyond our understandings into a reality that is both insecure and wonderful.