If you are like me, the word love initially conjures a notion of sentimentality—of being enraptured with feelings of affection, attraction, and wistful longing particularly for another person. For instance, a couple entering into a romantic relationship might be said to be “falling in love,” and might say to one another, “I love you.” You might be familiar with the Song of Solomon in scripture which poetically expresses the inebriation associated with such love. Listen to these beautiful words: As an apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.He brought me to the banqueting house, and his intention towards me was love. And a reply: You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride, you have ravished my heart with a glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. How sweet is your love, my sister, my bride![i]
But, eros, or romantic love, is not the only form of love that we are capable of feeling and expressing. We also express love filially. Filial love is not a romantic love, but a love that we express for our children, or for a favorite grandparent, aunt or uncle—those whom we nurture or have been nurtured. We love certain friends with which we have established a bond: perhaps someone we got to know in school, or worked closely with in our career, or even someone we have grown close to through a particular experience which created intense feelings of identification. Last weekend I enjoyed a visit from five of my closest friends whom I have not seen in a long time. What is striking about that experience is that no matter how long we are away from each other, when we do have an occasion to reunite, it is as if we were never separated—in a sense, we just pick up where we left off, sharing our experiences since we were last together while simultaneously enjoying each other in the present moment.