A young man and his teacher walked through a garden early one morning. The teacher spoke of the trees, the flowers, and the plants that surrounded them. The young man only nodded while he looked off in the distance.
The teacher smiled and said to the young man, “And how is the fair Marilyn?”
The young man blushed and smiled without saying a word.
“A new lesson for today,” the teacher said, “Tell me, what is love?”
The young man stopped walking and stared at the teacher with wide eyes and his mouth agape. He stood that way for the span of three or four heartbeats, but then answered.
“Is it something I feel? Something that stirs within me and warms me on the coldest of days? Is it a deep and irrational affection toward someone, that clouds judgment and sense, but drives me to be better than I am?” The young man puffed up his chest at his own answer.
“No,” the teacher answered bluntly. “Love can cause such feelings. Love can make you feel warmth, inspiration, dedication, and a desire that defies logic and reason. But that is not love, itself.”
The young man’s chest deflated and he stood silent for another long moment. His eyes twinkled and he answered again: “Love is what I do despite how I feel. It is honoring and cherishing someone, or something. It is selfless acts to show respect and value. Love is how I show that I see someone as a person and that I value them for who they are, not necessarily who I want them to be!”
His chest inflated again.
“No,” the teacher answered sternly, again. The young man deflated, again. The teacher continued: “Love drives us to act with honor. Love prompts us to cherish and respect and to treat others better than we treat ourselves. Love lets us see the true value that is intrinsic in each and every person and in all of creation. But, that is not love.”
The young man was silent for far longer now. He opened his mouth to speak multiple times, but quickly became silent and stared at the ground. His feet shuffled, his hands fidgeted, and he flattened his hair a dozen or more times.
Finally, he spoke. “Tell me, teacher, what is love?”
“Love is not a what. Love is a who. Love is a person. Love spoke into existence all of creation time before time ago. Love is the person whose heart broke when mankind decided they wanted to be love all on their own. Love patiently waited for the precise right moment to woo mankind back, and decided to step away from all their majesty so they could sacrifice themselves in order to bring mankind back to love. Love is the person who inspires us to act in ways to mirror that love and to feel that love course through us – even for fleeting moments. Love waits for us to believe, to say yes, and to be swept away.”
The young man nodded. His breaths were shallow and quick.
“Now,” the teacher continued, “Who is love?”
“Love is Jesus,” the young man said, his chest puffed and his eyes twinkling. And he looked toward the east.