All You Need is Love

Published in the Courier Mail 1 Jan 07

CHRISTMAS is over. The presents have been opened (and in some cases, returned), the fridge is full of leftovers, we’ve survived New Year’s Eve and our thoughts are turning towards the year ahead – and how we will strive to do better.

The lull during this time of year brings a welcome relief from the madness of the pre-Christmas rush. Time to read a book, watch some cricket and reflect on the year that was and the year that is to come.

Reflection is a wonderful habit all too often crowded out of our diaries – yet provides a chance to examine and adjust the lives we live. We can get so bent out of shape by the pace and consumption of modern living that some fine-tuning can be helpful.

A recent event reminded me of this. Dropping my husband and some colleagues to the airport for an early flight a few weeks before Christmas, we pulled into the passenger set down zone for a moment to unload luggage and for me to change seats. On my way from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat, I gave my husband the customary quick airport goodbye cuddle and told him I loved him.

Another traveller apparently felt inconvenienced by this display of affection and grumbled to us “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I love you too – can you get out of the way?” A fellow obviously awash with the season’s tidings of goodwill! What would cause such a reaction?

We face a new year, with all the promise and hope of new beginnings. Resolutions get considered. Some get made, and some get discarded. Yet we have that nagging feeling in the back of our mind that this new year will be simply the same as last year – busy, and strangely empty. We fill our lives with activity of every kind, yet sometimes we forget to leave some room for love.

In the same way, the gentleman at the airport was too busy to create space for love, we can fill our lives with activity and miss the most important things. Many of us will have spent time recently trying to have a “perfect” Christmas, yet how many of us spent time reconciling broken relationships, building new ones or strengthening the ones that matter most?

Ironically, when life becomes stressed we lash out and argue with those who are closest to us. Love can often be missing in action.

The consumerism each of us are wooed by encourages us to spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need. We can fill our lives with all the trappings money can buy and it won’t make a difference if we don’t make room for love.

Yet it doesn’t have to be like that. Offering a smile to those around us, choosing to let someone else go first, being patient and gracious as we attend to our daily tasks – making room for love.

As we consider our new year, and what we wish for it, it’s a good time to remind ourselves about the values we just celebrated. The first Christmas was less about the material things and more about love entering our world. Now, as then, some people made room for the message of Christmas, and some didn’t. Even today, we have a choice.

German-born American philosopher and psychoanalyst Eric Fromm once said: “Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.” Material things will not fill the emptiness, and a splendid cuisine won’t satiate a hungry heart – but love will.

As the list of New Year resolutions are finalised, perhaps we need to add a few things? Forgiveness, patience, and kindness are all the essence of love yet must be intentionally cultivated.

This new year, why not choose love over all else? When love is present, it’s the most wonderful gift of all.

Ruth Limkin