The Oak, The Utopia; the Alternative
•• Love is such a thing, of which we actually know very little. We are enthralled by it’s prospects, but seldom are committed to its sacrifice. We are enamored by its ideals and run at realization of its gritty reality.
•• In the wake of these things, I should think to say that the very things we think love to be ... have been stolen from under us and replaced with cheap synthetics—as if love could be bought at the dollar store. These are knick-knack alternatives to the real thing.
•• Like a rotten oak, this new love has the appearance of sturdiness all in all with a vacant strength. It is like a utopia of shimmering monoliths, complete with flying cars—only if the residents of this shimmering splendor ignored the horrors concealed behind its silicon panels and glass panes. Simply because we cannot see or hear the horrors does not mean that poverty, rape, suffocation and deep suffering do not exist.
•• But the reality of the fortified oak and the shimmering city alike is that their outward expression is deeply deceiving. Each is riddled with disease, shortcomings and great weakness.
•• I think our understanding of love is not so different. This synthetic alternative is deeply alluring and imitates all superficial qualities of the other’s greatness. It is a great harmony with horrible discord, a romance where tragedy is met just behind the edge of the screen. We are lost to this discord of harmony and the prospect on screen that never truly comes through. We sit under the shade of the oak about to crush our spirit and bask in the gleam of progress that will be lost to dust in time.
•• How long have you have you rested in the shade of the oak? How long have you been secure in the synthetic?
•• I am not suggesting that love in its purest form does not exist, but rather that we have forgotten how to recognize its landscape. When we come across the most true expression of Love, it cannot be mistaken for its sibling synthetics and hollow rivals.
•• I am suggesting that you were made for a Love you could not recognize upon arrival, however, when encountered by its splendor, passivity is no option. No more are we dissuaded by love in its cheapest form, but rather forced to address the conflict deep within our own soul.
•• All at once we are aware of our own need for true intimacy and awakened to its infinite possibilities if we pursue Love as it was intended. Like the dawn, this Love shines on our innermost vulnerabilities and tends to our deepest wounds. The crest of the sun breaks the horizon to reveal every moment in our lives, whether by betrayal, drinking or abandonment, the synthetic sibling of Love did everything except that which is sacrificial.
We are unmistakably preoccupied by the wrong things. We are horribly deceived by the least real thing. Truest Love is not worried at the prospect of sacrifice. More importantly it cannot deny its importance. Greatest love is revealed at a chilling intersection.
•• Where it should have given, it demanded gifts. Where it deserved address, pain was ignored. Where we confided this synthetic exposed our greatest pains. Where it should have called us near, the synthetic created separation. Where it could have magnified our strengths it preyed on our weakness. Where it should have put down the flask, it sulked toward one more drink.
•• Love is not a hand held, love is not a father’s fleeting affirmation, love is not a caress of a cheek, love is not a couple entangled, love is not striving for approval or a wishing well for something greater, but moreover Love is the sacrifice never seen.
•• Greater is Love that seeks forgives. Greater is Love that turns its cheek. Greater is Love that blots out insecurity. Greater is Love that covers the grenade. Greater is Love that intercepts the sword. Greater is Love that braves the firing squad.
•• Greater is Love that called the daughter home. Greater is Love that accepts blame in innocence. Greater is Love that accepts our greatest shortcomings. Greater is Love that would hand over keys to its kingdom. Greater is Love that would forsake it’s legacy for its child. Greatest is the Love that would lay down its life for its friends.
•• We are unmistakably preoccupied by the wrong things. We are horribly deceived by the least real thing. Truest Love is not worried at the prospect of sacrifice. More importantly it cannot deny its importance. Greatest love is revealed at a chilling intersection. The residents of the shimmering city have harvested the hollow oak and manufactured molds for nails. At this intersection the synthetic pins Love to the tree.
•• We are met with a horrible realization as ultimate Love runs over the things we so dearly worshipped. As sacrifice pours out of Love’s flesh, the insufficiencies of the synthetic is revealed. The city’s shimmer loses its appeal and the oak is finally seen for what it is—horribly hollow.
•• But this is not where the hope of love ends. Love extends to the horizon of new day. It is as steady as the rising of the sun. This Love does not decay, it does not falter, it does not betray. It also does not hesitate. And with the dawn of each new day it continues to extend its offer to us. It continues to rise each morning to remind us of its victory over the synthetic. This Love promises that as long as the sun rises each morning it will continue to offer its great gift to us.
•• Like a flash we are aware of reality of eternity. Suddenly we are equipped with an acute sense of Love’s landscape. Its geography no longer possesses a foreign allure, but we are sharply aware of our distinct desire for its provision.
•• I think finally we are most aware of the unerring reality of this love when we are aware of our own frailty. While this love is entirely sacrificial it will also not hesitate to point out our own weakness. Once more, passivity is no option in the face of ultimate Love. True Love will not hesitate to reveal our own weakness and unequivocally capture us with it’s immeasurable beauty.
•• So with each dawn we are presented with a new opportunity. Eternity will come in a flash. We can continue to bask in the fleeting shade of the oak. We may also ignore reality in enclaves of human progress.
•• Yet, each morning will present a new opportunity for us to step into Love. Each morning we have the option to step into eternity and enjoy the promise of the horizon. So what will you do?
Are you running toward the horizon?
Are you sprinting toward Jesus?
Original photograph by Michael Banks.