With Valentine’s Day coming up I’m taking the initiative to get folks thinking about love. Here’s a clip that I sometimes make reference to in my classes, from the 1997 film As Good As It Gets. If you can’t see the video, click here.
Ignatius wrote that “love shows itself more in deeds than in words.” We tend to focus on feelings first. This clip suggests something of Ignatius’s wisdom: feelings don’t sustain a relationship; actions do. More specifically: symbolic actions do. There’s nothing especially loving about taking pills (as Nicholson’s character does) except when that action symbolizes something deeper, something more mysterious than words can communicate.
There’s a moment at the end of the clip when they both look somewhat afraid: that is the only response to real love, for it is an entrance into a place where neither party can really have control, but only let go and behold. It is for that reason that the author of the first letter of John suggests that God is love: for when one loves truly one has already removed his shoes and stands on holy ground.