Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Learning The Way of Love

Perched on my daughter’s finger, that’s Jesse. Sarah and I saw past our parental reservations (upkeep, cost, what-if-it-dies, etc.) and gave it to her for Christmas. Our daughter had no idea she was receiving a year-long desire, so she went bananas when she realized it was to be.

Tragically, Jesse died three weeks later. Ellen’s hopes and affections were brutally broken, but that’s nowhere near the end of the story.

The real story is that my daughter loved, and she was beautiful.

Long before she met Jesse, she was preparing to love. She read books about parakeets, poured over articles she found on the web, trial-ballooned owning a parakeet while at dinner (“They’re really good pets and don’t need much care, you know.”) watched and got acquainted with one at a friend’s house, and more. So, when we brought it to her at Christmas, her affection found a place to go.

And Ellen was stunning. She read aloud to Jesse for hours and hours, with great inflection and feeling. She made sure we all held him at various times during the day in order to ensure we all got along together. She built a tree perch for him, patiently weaned him off an inferior food and onto a superior one, provided a perfect sleeping environment, and spoke calmly and soothingly to him throughout the day. She even made a web page about him. But all the while she was about Jesse, the story was really about Ellen and what love did for her. Really, my daughter lived in a way she had not before, and she was a beauty to behold.

And then came Jesse’s end.

Aside from the immediate trauma, my daughter’s flowering love suddenly had nowhere to go. We cried and grieved together, and had a funeral for Jesse a few days later. And we thanked God for the best part about Jesse—Ellen loved.

To love was worth it.

I have seen boys and men, girls and women, mourn the loss of a pet, including guppies and goldfish, cats and dogs, horses and ducks, birds and ferrets, rabbits and rats. I knew some of those pets, and sometimes I wondered how the owner could have loved it in the first place. In my view, it was a nasty demand on their life.

Yet in each case the beauty wasn’t in the pet, but in the person loving. And what Paul wrote is proven true again—it’s great to love. Without it we don’t live; we have nothing. (1 Cor 13:2,3; 14:1)

Learning the way of love is tough—Ellen would tell you. Love won’t take you anywhere and there is no place for it to arrive and it won’t make a house payment. But it sure lets a person be beautiful.

And that’s worth it.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
(1 Cor 13:13 NIV)


  1. Anonymous10:31 AM

    Wow. One of the best missives you've ever sent. The best always come
    from the heart (and home). Thanks. My kids are just opening up to loving
    someone other than themselves, and this encourages me to find ways to
    fan that into flame, even if but for a season.

  2. Anonymous10:44 AM

    Oh my, this was wonderful.

  3. Anonymous10:12 PM

    Beautiful story, Ralph. Thank you for sharing it.
    I know a real good one, too.
    "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins.
    1 John 4:10 (Amplified Bible)
    Love to you and yours.

  4. Anonymous10:13 PM

    Loved it! Great piece of writing.

  5. Anonymous2:04 PM

    This is just so great Ralph!! I so identify – I once owned 2 lovebirds (I mean, the REAL birds), and I still remember (and miss) the delight of seeing these little feather balls responding to my love. . . Tell Ellen I SO understand!
    Thanks for sharing that story!

  6. Anonymous9:27 AM

    Thank you for all your blogs. It is great to be reminded of the truth.

    I actually used this one as an example last night :)

  7. As painful as it was when it happened (and for a while following), so much good has come.

    And now my daughter has decided on a new bird--Sam. He's a great little guy...better still because Ellen chose him.

    Thanks, everyone.