Issue Date: September 16, 2005
By CHRISTINA ZAKER
When my children were born, love was suddenly an awesome feeling. No words could capture what I felt. As they grew, we played with different ways to say, I love you. My oldest son and I would try great arm reaches and high tippie-toe stretches. I love you this much! he said, stretching as far as he could. My daughter and I would get longer each night with, I love you more than all the stars in the sky. I love you more than all the stars in the sky and all the grains of sand on all the beaches in the world!
Recently my third child became enthralled with being able to express his love too. Mom, he would state at any moment of the day, I love you. This was always a sweet gift. His favorite place to say it was the gym at school. Mom, he would call, pausing to hear the echo through the empty gym, I love you.
Yesterday when he did this I responded as always, I love you, Josh. But then I added, A lot! He turned and said in a matter of fact tone, Theres no a lot Mom. You just love me. Thats it.
I stopped. Here was my 3-year-old telling me; You either love me or you dont. I was struck with that simple reality: Love is and there is no other option.
Love is not on a pyramid with Gods unconditional love at the peak. Joshs words caught me square across the face with the reality that all love is supposed to be unconditional. You either love or you dont. And youre supposed to love.
The implications of this were huge. With every person I encounter I need to start with loving them and that influences how I interact with them. People at work, neighbors, people with whom I volunteer, they are all people I am called to love -- unconditionally.
In the gym at school, I knelt. Josh came right up so our noses were touching. Mom, he whispered, I love you. I love you too, Josh, I whispered back. It felt like that was all I needed to say.
Christina Zaker writes from Chicago.
National Catholic Reporter, September 16, 2005
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