Tag Archives: agape

Quiet Love

If God is a Father, I can surmise that godly love is like pure parent love. Knowing little about godly love and more about parent love, I shall address the latter.

NOTE: This blog series investigates twelve attributes I see as conducive to recovery from PTSD and other past stress. June shares Love.

While I was in Bien Hoa, Vietnam, I bought a pair of ceramic elephants to be used as end tables or lamp stands. The Army crated and shipped them home for me. I still have one.

One arrived intact, but the other was broken, the elephant separated at feet and trunk from the base. At the time I really didn’t care. In the thrill of being home, it seemed insignificant.

My mother worked for hours, days I think, to repair that elephant. She found some glue that worked and chinked pieces into gaps like putting Humpty Dumpty together. It worked. I can still see her on her knees toiling away.

I wonder if she really knew, consciously, what she was doing.

When she grew feeble in her mid-nineties and had difficulty remembering names, she still recognized me, even though I only saw her a few times a year. Near the end she told me again that she loved me. She needn’t. I had always known.

I had not always known that my father loved me. Like me, he was not particularly verbal or demonstrative on his feelings. Until that day I signed away my little farm.

It had been on his recommendation that I bought it. I believe he said something like if I didn’t buy it, he would.

Then came divorce and I had to sell it, but that was during a real estate bust in the late seventies and it took two years.

I had to get a perk test and my dad came to fill the hole using what had been my D-17 bucket tractor. I was having a rebellious period and refused.

Then came that awful day when we stood in the little kitchen of that little ramshackle house and signed the papers. My dad stood there with me, silent as usual as I signed away my little dream.

I am sure he consciously knew exactly what he was doing. He taught me something really important about being a father that day, and I never doubted his love again.

It took me almost twenty years to get another piece of land and another sixteen to get a bucket tractor. And when I use it, I think of him.

I stopped grieving the loss of my father on Father’s Day of 1990, a little over two years after his death. I prayed aloud, that day in the Arizona Sonoran Desert, a prayer of gratitude for my father and for the privilege of being a father.

When I garden, I think of both my parents. Planting, cultivating, and harvesting is what we did.

Near the gate to my garden in the north woods stands a wounded ceramic elephant with a pot of flowers on its back. It symbolizes a few things for me, but most of all, it represents the healing power of Love, especially Agape Love.

Happy Father’s Day.

Happy Tracking.

Gump Shun

Forrest Gump is a Vietnam Combat Veteran who knows how to love. “I am not a smart man, but I know what love is,” he tells Jenny.

Forrest is able to tell Jenny that he loves her, freely, and without reserve. He does not have symptoms of PTSD.

Jenny does.

Do you know what love is?

A couple of decades ago, I heard a little sermon on love at my nephew’s wedding—three kinds of love, in fact: eros, philos, and the third kind I could not remember. So, I asked the minister after the service and wrote it down. Agape.

Eros is the erotic and/or romantic love of fame and film. It is young love, eager love, love of troops returning to an idealized mate back home (whom they may or may not have yet met). It is Cupid love.

There is more, much more. The point of this blog series taking us through most of 2013 is an exploration of that much more.

Some psychologists (Ashley B. Hart II, PhD) refer to different kinds of love, also. Dr. Hart even separates erotic love from romantic love because they seem to describe two different kinds of feelings. Ancient Greeks referred to the three mentioned in the sermon, and because I have been thinking about these for twenty years, this is where I shall begin.

Eros get’s us home. It helps us make it to DEROS, our date eligible to return from overseas. It motivates us to endure, and that is a very good thing.

It is not enough.

Back home, many Combat Veterans feel a tremendous void even when they have wives or lovers waiting for them. Erotic love is real and important, but it does not fill the holes in our souls.

About one year after returning, I joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard. I thought it was for the money, but it was not. It was to fill the hole, to find the camaraderie I missed.

Combat beats the ideology from our hearts, and eros can carry us only so far. In another movie, Tom Hanks risks everything to save Private Ryan, not for any ideal, but to do whatever would get him back home to his wife. Okay, that might be eros but is probably more.

The real lesson comes from Private Ryan who chooses to stay with his live brothers trapped in combat rather than going home. Tom Hanks stays, too. It is the thing to do. This attachment, this mortal loyalty to our brothers on the field, is an example of philos, brotherly love. It is a form of mutualism quite different from eros. One committed to a Western philosophy of hierarchy may even consider philos more powerful than eros.

I can tell you, personally, that the trust in a fellow Combat Veteran is different than the trust in a spouse or lover. The Vets in my group who make the most of PTSD recovery seem to have both.

Agape is a godly love. It is my intent for this blog series to get there before Veterans’ Day.

PTSD makes love more difficult and more necessary. It’s why Jenny has trouble in relationships. It’s why she shuns the love of Forrest Gump.

Forrest never loses his pre-trauma self. Lt. Dan does. Maybe there is something in expectations, but I think it is just a story. However, Lt. Dan recovers, and I believe it is through philos and agape.

Forrest Gump knows how to love. Do you? Because, if you love a Combat Veteran, love matters. Jenny and Dan had to learn to love. Someone had to love them back.

Is that someone, you?