Vicars are famous for their post-holiday sermon stories, boring congregations with great thoughts from their recent travel destinations. Parents are similarly famous for being endlessly fascinated with (and tedious about) their offspring. I get to combine these two predilections, forgive me.
I was on holiday recently with my family, doing what the parents of very young parents do, i.e. imposing on their own parents to seek refuge. The free babysitting helped me get enough rest to be able to spend more time enjoying, and less time stressing, about the kids. My youngest is one and revealing himself to be very funny and rather naughty, much to the delight of his older brother. One of the joys, as nauseating and oft repeated as it is, is seeing the love that exists between these two little boys. And, in a self satisfied and existential moment, I found myself reflecting that we, my husband and I, had made this happen. We had created this brotherly love. Had we not met on a November mid week evening in the chapel of St. Paul's Church, Rossmore Road, London, then this instance of brotherly love would never have occurred.
But I was brought up short, knowing (somehow) that I was not only being smug, but that I was also wrong. Love is a gift of God; as 1 John tells us God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. Love, as we experience it on earth, cannot be created or destroyed, but is always a gift of God that we participate in. The love that I glimpsed between brothers, is part of God's love, infinite and available.
There is an helpful analogy with physics: the first law of Thermodynamics also known as the law of conservation of energy. The total amount of energy in the universe (a closed system) will always remain constant. For example, if you lift an apple into the air it will have a certain amount of potential energy due to the force of gravity. When you let go of that apple, the potential energy is converted primarily into kinetic energy (movement) as it falls and hits the ground with a little sounds energy loss as it goes splat. But the total amount of energy is always conserved.
Of course, the energy in a system can be converted into other types of energy. This then could be a useful springboard analogy for considering what we do with the measure of love given to us by God, or the love that we personally experience in our own lives. How do we transfer and convert this love in the world around us? Is it dissipated, distorted and wasted (see future post on analogies with entropy which is the scientific word for disorder) or is it converted in useful ways to do good work and spread the infinite love further abroad?