Song of Solomon 2 (NIV)
1 I am a rose of Sharon,
a lily of the valleys.
2 Like a lily among thorns
is my darling among the young women.
3 Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest
is my beloved among the young men.
I delight to sit in his shade,
and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
4 Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
and let his banner over me be love.
Exodus 17:15 (New Living Translation)
Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-nissi (which means “the Lord is my banner”).
5 Strengthen me with raisins,
refresh me with apples,
for I am faint with love.
I am lovesick: The maiden described a feeling familiar to many who have known the thrill of romantic love. She feels physically weak and perhaps even somewhat disoriented because of the strength of attraction and infatuation she has towards her beloved.
According to Dr. Jeffrey Schloss, there is a brain hormone that mediates the feeling of being in love or being infatuated. One of these neurotransmitters is known as phenethylamine, and it floods our brain when we fall in love (it is also in fairly high quantities in chocolate). This chemical gives us feelings of exhilaration and thrill and well-being, and in high amounts can lead to a loss of appetite. This chemical works somewhat in a cycle, at least in a relationship. At the beginning of the relationship it spikes up; after four or five years it begins to decline. Across cultures there is spike in the rate of divorce at about 4.5 years of marriage.
This leads some scientists to say that we are made for monogamy, but only in the sense of one partner at a time, and then changing partners every five years or so. Yet Dr. Schloss says that we know this is not true. In the brain there are completely different pathways, with completely different chemical mediators. These begin to form at about the four-year point in a relationship, and they contribute to different feelings. Instead of feelings of thrill and “I can’t eat,” they are feelings of deep contentment and gratitude. One of the chemicals that mediates these feeling is oxytocin, which is the same chemical related to the bonding of a mother together with her infant.
Some suggest that relationships have two major phases: attraction and attachment. The attraction phase is powerful, and the kind of condition that makes one say, “I am lovesick.” Yet the key to a long-term fulfilling relationship is staying with it past the attraction phase into the attachment phase. There are some counselors who devote almost their entire counseling practice trying to help what they call “love junkies”; people who are so addicted to the phenethylamine phase that they bounce from relationship rush to relationship rush without ever really coming into a greater, longer lasting relationship fulfillment.
One could say that we are engineered for the longer lasting attachment phase, and the attraction phase is meant to be a portal into the attachment phase, and not something unto itself. The good news is that as a relationship moves into the attachment phase, the attraction phase recycles, and long-married couples often experience the sense of falling in love all over again – several times through their marriage.
6 His left arm is under my head,
and his right arm embraces me.
7 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires.
8 Listen! My beloved!
Look! Here he comes,
leaping across the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
9 My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Look! There he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattice.
10 My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
LOVE IS. . . a surprise.
Love is not calculated, controlled, predicted, or expected. Love is a “good catastrophe” (to use Tolkien’s words). It is the mark of God’s presence, and so it takes us by surprise, as he does. The God of the philosophers is simply “Being,” but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob creeps up behind us and says, “Boo!”
And the bride is surprised by his voice: “Listen! The voice of my beloved!”
Love elopes. God calls us, as he called Abraham, away from the security we knew, out of our old, familiar, little room, down the ladder of faith and into his arms. Jesus called his disciples that way — just as a lover elopes with his beloved. Whenever we think we have got him planned, he blows away our plans like the clouds of smoke they are, and stands in front of us in place of our dreams, our cloudy expectations, and forces us to choose between him and ourselves, between the God of surprises and the idol of same old self, between God the gazelle and self the slug. It is ultimately the choice between Heaven and Hell.
–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft
11 See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.”
LOVE IS . . . Gospel.
Love is news, good news, Gospel. Love is promise of future bliss, hopeful of future reward, forward looking to future ratification. Love speaks wonderful and mysterious promises. Will the human bride believe them? Will she have faith in her divine bridegroom? Will she chooses life?
The response must be a “coming away” from the past, from death and darkness and the womb and sleep. The imagery is of morning and springtime. Love is alive. Love is not an abstract ideal; love is a wedding invitation. Love is not something for us to approach; it is something that approaches us.
–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft
Mark 8:34-35 (NLT)
Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.”
14 My dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the hiding places on the mountainside,
show me your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.
She walks in beauty, like the nightOf cloudless climes and starry skies;And all that’s best of dark and brightMeet in her aspect and her eyes;Thus mellowed to that tender lightWhich heaven to gaudy day denies.One shade the more, one ray the less,Had half impaired the nameless graceWhich waves in every raven tress,Or softly lightens o’er her face;Where thoughts serenely sweet express,How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,The smiles that win, the tints that glow,But tell of days in goodness spent,A mind at peace with all below,A heart whose love is innocent!
15 Catch for us the foxes,
the little foxes
that ruin the vineyards,
our vineyards that are in bloom.
16 My beloved is mine and I am his;
All this talk of gazelles leaping and stags bounding reminds me of a song that David sometimes sings to me. HERE is Frank Sinatra and “I Get a Kick out of You.”