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What is Love? (or the Man from Tennessee)


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Dear Friends and Lovers everywhere,

I had a delightful conversation with these two good people from Tennessee a summer or two ago while I was living in St. Augustine.   Or was it Kentucky?  (I have difficulty remembering which is which.).  They were sitting on the curb behind the Village Inn.  The conversation began with a polite reprimand to the dude for throwing a cigarette butt on the ground. (Actually, I don’t think you call a young man from Tennessee a dude, do you?)  I care for the planet that supports my every step and I try my best to show respect and reverence to her and gently persuade others to do the same.

As a writer, I am always interested in people’s stories.  And the conversation became quite up close and personal quite quickly.  They told me a bit of each of their stories.  About their work and school and families.  The young lady was still in high school.  They were thinking about getting married.  I was very much impressed with these young folks.  Salt of the earth folks.  Reminded me of last Sunday’s gospel reading.

Valentine’s Day is coming up.  Another day where our economists try to persuade us to think we need to spend money to show our love.  We’ll explore the question What is love? in the next few days.

So, what is LOVE?  I’m going to interweave two threads into my blog –  the themes What is Love? and What is Life? The two provide the tapestry of a life well-lived.  If we seek life and love every day – if we choose to turn away from hateful words and thoughts and the cruel deeds that spouses and jilted lovers throw at each other in cruel text messaging, we will find both.  Love and life.

We’ll reflect a little more each day on these two themes.  There’s all kinds of love, you know.  There’s romance that is the kind that pervades the soaps, the news stand magazines.  There’s erotic love.  There’s brotherly (or sisterly) love, the love of friends, neighborly love.  And there’s sacrificial love.  There’s conditional and unconditional love.  There’s love that isn’t love at all.

But here’s a practical suggestion so that you can make your own reflection and thereby make your own meaning.

At day’s end, reflect on the positive things — even the tiny little things in a chaotic, insane day.  Where was the LOVE?  Where was the LIFE?

Take a moment.  Reflect on your day.  Pick two incidents, however fleeting, however small that you might have missed at the time.  Savor them for a moment as you get ready for bed.  Those are the moments in which God is speaking to you.  Be ready to receive into your life and your heart the little moments of LIFE and LOVE that do happen even in on the cruelest day or even despair.  It is not the destination that is important; life and love happen on the way.

God bless you, my two young friends from Tennessee (or Kentucky). It was such an honor and a joy to talk with you.  And there’s a tear of  joy in my eye right now as I think of you, even a couple of years later. Maybe you’re married now ~ to each other or to somebody else.  but I hope you finished high school.  Have a wonderful life — both of you and each of you.

Before you go , if you’ve got a ramblim/ boy in your life or in your soul,  here’s Dave Loggin’s famous song about the Man from Tennessee with beautiful images to carry your soul away, if just for a moment on love’s nostalgia and grace.  Have a great day!

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

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