Saturday, 29 March 2014

To love at all is to be vulnerable

I visited an old bachelor this week. He was sitting disconsolately on his settee, gently stroking the lifeless body of Charlie, his companion of the last 11 years. The old dog had liver cancer and passed away during the previous night. He died on the floor of the sitting room. My patient had dialled 999 in the night and the paramedics had come and lifted Charlie up onto the settee. Likely one of their more unusual 'emergenices'.

Discussing the situation with the social worker, I was told that, "it was only a dog....you can't really call it bereavement." Oh really?

I'm reminded of some words of C.S. Lewis from The four loves, quoted in Paul Miller's superb new book, A loving life,
There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will  certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to be sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no-one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket-safe, dark, motionless, airless-it will change. It will not be broken, it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable...The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.
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