One of the very best lines I’ve heard about love came from the wise mouths of Zhang Mucheng (101 years old) and Xu Dongying, (102) of Shanghai, celebrating 80 years of marriage together. When asked about love, they said “We are not used to kissing and hugging…we just feel good when we are together.” And later: “We have so many things to do together…we don’t have time for fights.”
Most folks, I think, immediately conjure up the hugging and kissing part when they see the word “love.” Zhang and Xu remind us that for the long haul, love is much more about the thousands of ways that people shape lives together. They shape emotional bonds, “feeling good together,” making choices that leave no room for discord.
I wonder if the same image about love might apply to prayer—forging an emotional relationship with God? Could our devotional practices and our loving work in the world contribute to an unfolding friendship with God? Could our experiences of reaching out to God in love help build a relationship, such that in times of suffering we turn to God as a friend who nourishes and sustains us?
Or perhaps building a strong loving relationship with a lifelong friend could be part of building a strong loving relationship with God?