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  • Writer's pictureDavid Downs

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

OK, let's hear it for Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Valentine’s Day has just whizzed by, so it would be remiss of me not to put into words my thoughts on the big fella; love.

When I was studying for church ministry, I loved the times I had to research for an essay or a sermon. This allowed me to delve deep into the original languages the Bible was written and glean some fascinating new angles on a common theme.

OK, I thought my discoveries were new, but there is nothing new under the sun in reality. Maybe microchip technology. (Young Ones, anyone?)

One theme that would frequently arise was that of love. Philosophy is filled with dialogues on love. The Bible is also. So many religions and aspects of modern society all touch upon love. I would work really hard to do everything with love. I was recently reminded that all things should 'Come from a place of love.'

But let's back up a little bit. I would love to look into the original languages. Of course, the New Testament was written in the form of 'common Greek' spoken around two thousand years ago. Love was one word that fascinated me, as the Greek-speaking ancient world knew what they were talking about.

I love my daughters. I love curry. I love Star Wars. I love my family. I love my friends and colleagues, even putting one foot in front of another for eighteen hours running 100km!

Of course, my love for a spicy slice cannot compare to my love for my daughters or running crazy distances. Oh, I equally hate running for eighteen hours! There have been times I've been accused of banding around the word 'love' too quickly.

But do I?

Perhaps I should start using the Greek.

Eros – The sexy one

Philia – of friends and family

Ludus – playful, a little flirtatious

Pragma – That long-lasting bond between a couple, standing in love, rather than falling in love

Agape – the joy from selfless, unconditional, and even spiritual love

Philautia – Love of yourself. Yes, it is vital to love yourself, respect, and appreciate.

Storge – for my daughters, my friends, family, and even the occasional colleague x

Oh, hang on, which one is for a cool, refreshing pint of Moretti?

No, I'm not going to detail each word individually. I can easily give you many examples from my own life, and maybe I'll write a little series on them. I am sure they will all come out in the wash as we go on this writing journey together.

Doing things from a place of love, I say to people that I love them. And if I say it, I do. I certainly don't say it if I do not mean it, but you, on the other hand, have to negotiate the mine-field of which love I am using on that occasion.

If I say that I love you, it doesn't mean I will wander aimlessly over the Yorkshire Moors reciting Byron. Or offer up a dozen roses with some cheesy platitude from Hallmark. It means you are on my radar. I will protect you, be loyal to you, make myself vulnerable, and try to trust you.

Then, and only then, can we explore which of the 7 I mean.

There is that rocky terrain of a new relationship. At what point do you stop saying, 'I like you.' and develop to, 'I love you?' Actually, I think you should always say, 'I like you.' as it is possible to love someone but not like them.


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