Amor and Eros: A celebration
February 14, 2010 by Bill
Valentine week is here with a celebration of Eros and Amor. I am writing this on one of those days so breathtaking, with sky and breeze, flowers and sun, doves and quail, that surely the earth must stand in amazement at its own beauty.
The biblical Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) raptured over love on such a day. “O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your mouth! For your love is better than wine. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time for singing has come, and the voice of the dove is heard in our land. O queenly maiden! Your thighs are like jewels and your breasts like two fawns. O loved one, delectable maiden, I will give you my love…”
This Old Testament book is the only literature in the entire bible where Eros and Amor are celebrated and praised. To me, this omission is one of the great failures of biblical literature.
The word “Eros” and the expression of it, with Amor, are not to be found in the entire New Testament. And yet Eros and Amor have been the source of more enormous creativity, genuine joy, personal enrichment, and spiritual visions than any other emotion in the human species.
Amor is of the heart. There is a beauty to it. It is selective and discriminate, it is specific and particular. It is Pascal writing that “the heart has reasons that reason knows nothing of.” It is Aristotle writing that: “The soul of the lover cherishes his beloved above parents, children, brother, sister or companions. Above everything he cherishes his beloved.”
Or Immanuel Kant observing that “Love is always a matter of feeling, never of will. Either you feel love or you do not. Love can never be a duty or obligation.”
And wrote Emerson, the thinker and philosopher: “Always obey the heart.”
This is why the so-called “great commandment” of Jesus to “love God with all of your heart and soul” is so absurd and ludicrous. No one loves by “command.” The very word negates “love.”
One of the most brilliant Renaissance men in human history, with the mind and talents of a genius, wrote of the “head” and the “heart.” Thomas Jefferson, in a love letter so unique as to be without equal, wrote to the French artist Maria Cosway a letter with the title of “My Head and My Heart.” He allows his head to debate his heart. Jefferson gave his heart the last word of the 32 page debate:
“If our country had been governed by heads, instead of hearts, where should we all be now? Hanging on the highest gallows. We, hearts, saved the country. In short, friend head, I really do not know that I ever did one good thing on your suggestion. So, leave me, heart, alone. Leave me to decide when and where and how friendships are to be conducted. I am but a son of nature, loving what I see and feel, without being able to give a reason…nor caring whether there even be one…”
There is no one in this world who loves the outdoors and nature more than I. And yet, I do remember that nature is not the ultimate joy in making one’s heart sing.
No mountain has yet said to me…”don’t cry, it will be O.K. and all right.” No sunset touches and takes my hand and says ”I love you.” No tree has ever said, “May I help you with your problem?” No flower, moon or star, has ever put an arm around my shoulder and said, “We will go through this thing together, you and I.”
“The inability to give or receive love is insanity,” wrote Dr. Karl Menninger of the famed Menninger Clinic.
In this coming Valentine week, and in all of your days to come, may your heart be filled with all of the enrichment of Amor and Eros.