A Harsh and Dreadful Love: Part 6, The Science of Love

In the last post, the elder Zosima used an interesting word to describe active love:
Whereas active love is labor and perseverance, and for some people, perhaps, a whole science. 
The word I want to focus on is "science."

I'm not exactly sure what Dostoevsky/Zosima had in mind by using the word "science" in relation to love, but here I'll hazard my guess.

The point, I think, is that real love, the love that requires "labor and perseverance," doesn't depend upon spontaneous bursts of affection. Because if our love followed the spontaneous movements of our hearts, our love will be a roller coaster ride. Sometimes we'd be feeling it, and other times we wouldn't. Plus, there is the general tendency for our love to cool and wane over time.

For love to be maintained across the long haul it demands more than affections. Love requires disciplined habits and practices, a "method" if you will. Love is practiced as a "science," as an organized set of procedures and activities. Love is precise, planned, and intentional rather than situational, spontaneous, and occasional. To be sure, this is a very unromantic vision of love, but that's precisely the point. This is a love that endures when the romance of love is long gone.

What might this "science of love" look like?

One example I share in Stranger God is how Thérèse de Lisieux described her Little Way as a "science of love." The Little Way is a set of habits that, when we adopt them, makes our love precise, planned, and intentional. With the Little Way Love becomes a lifestyle.

The point of all this is simply to say that love is less about affections than about small, intentional choices we make to care for each other, and our fidelity to those choices, year in and year out.

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