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Letter Photography - Love IV

“Love IV” is part of a trio, including “Faith IV” and “Hope IV”. It’s like a waltz: Imagine dancing to this tune: Faith-Hope-Love, Faith-Hope-Love, Faith-Hope-Love, Faith-Hope-Love. Of these three, Paul of Tarsus considered love the most virtuous. As Christmas is drawing ever closer, my thoughts wander constantly to the wonder of the love that was poured out on us by the birth of a baby.

And so i share “Love IV” with you.

“L” - Just around the corner of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness,” she wrote.

The light of one candle defies a vast ocean of darkness. It can’t be obscured by any amount of gloom. In fact, a little candle is more visible in a dark place than among a thousand other candles. Among many other bearers of light, it shines in unity, but in tenebrosity, it contrasts so starkly to its surroundings that it becomes the focus of our attention.

One definition of light describes it as “the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible.” Anything that wishes to remain hidden, can therefore only remain a secret in darkness, as light would enable people to see it for what it is. And once that happens – once we can see what’s been tucked away in hidden places – we’re able to call a spade a spade.

To me, this describes two aspects of love: the way it captures our attention among other competing emotions and forces, and the way it exposes the true nature of everything it touches.

“O” – Skylight on the way to see the Matterhorn

When you visit Zermatt, a few cable cars brings you to several mountain stations from which the Matterhorn is visible. It is one of the most recognisable natural features of Switzerland, and of course it has a place of honour on the Toblerone chocolate boxes.

While the Matterhorn is not the highest peak in Switzerland, its shape makes it stand out among the surrounding peaks. Four ridges meet at its peak, creating four faces, each of which faces the four points of the compass. Love acts as a compass, a way of determining which way to go and which way to follow.

The north face of the Matterhorn is part of what mountaineers call “The Trilogy,” one of the three largest north faces in the Alps. Similarly, love is part of a trilogy: faith, hope and love, all admirable, enduring qualities worthy of our dedicated pursuit. As with those three mountain faces, faith, hope and love requires us to persevere in the face of tremendous challenges if we hope to reach the summit.

According to estimates, more than 500 people have died in their attempts to conquer this peak, which means that it’s one of the deadliest summits globally. Likewise, love has its costs. Sometimes it requires the ultimate price, of which we are reminded as Christmas draws near. It cost the King of kings his place in the Royal Court. It required Him to live a simple life in a broken world among people who didn’t understand Him. Ultimately it called on Him to volunteer to pay the ultimate price on behalf of people who despised Him.

“V” – Table Mountain Cable Car

Two cable cars are permanently connected to the beacon of the Mother City by these cables. The cables are strong and durable to carry the weight of the cable cars and its passengers day in and day out. Yet, if the cables were not attached securely to the mountain, it would be useless. In the same way, i know that love needs to be anchored soundly to its source, otherwise it would be useless. At Christmas i am reminded again of the Source of love, the One who loves me with an everlasting love.

“E” – Google Fountain

A unique fountain next door to the Google offices in Zurich completes this word. Since 1996 Google has become the main source of information – or knowledge – for many people. In fact, over 65% of internet searches in the United States are done via Google. Earlier this week i watched a video of a man who had searched through his toddler son’s Google voice searches for the last year. He makes the statement that Google has become the fifth person in their family, as his son has come to interact with the website as he would with a family member who is always around to talk to.

The most elegant piece of prose about love ever written is found in an ancient letter to the people of Corinth. It reminds us that there are many sought-after virtues – among which wisdom, faith, understanding and knowledge – but that these are worthless if it’s not cocooned in love. The author concludes his letter by calling all other qualities temporal compared to love, which is eternal. Not that i think that he thought wisdom, faith, understanding or knowledge were worthless per se, but that without the surpassing value of love, it fell short of its potential.

Sooner or later i always come to a place where i ask myself: “What is love? What is the definition of love?” The most satisfying answer i have ever heard came from the Carpenter of Nazareth, who said that the greatest love you can have is to lay down your life for your friends. Eventually, he proved his words by doing just that.

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