Love is a Tree in Winter

Love is a tree that shimmers verdant light on those who rest in its green shade. It is safety and rest. Love is the home we always long for, even when we sit in our living rooms, feet propped up on the coffee table.

Sometimes, love finds us. We open our closet doors one morning to discover Narnia in the spring. We nestle our toes into the cool grass and lean our heads back against the rough of bark. Like the fabled Mary, we doze beside sweet Afton’s bank — fearless. Until we wake up in the waste land, alone and haunted by taunting memories.

Of all the emotions that play tricks in our minds, love is the most human. Love is wired through both soul and body, so a touch of the hand sends fireworks into our brains and chemicals explode into our hearts. A mother’s hand brushing the hair from your face. A friend’s arms circling you when you cry. The feel of a lover’s face against your own, breath mingling as you whisper and laugh and kiss. Love feels like we have found joy and that the search for meaning is over. But mothers age and die. Friends betray us. And lovers often turn out to be only the great deceiver eros, passionate but empty-chested. And we are left, warm, fed, and heart-starved.

And so we go through life, each year another lesson in love-loss. Like Dickens’ Marley, the chain of loves-lost grows longer and longer, weighing us down until each step is a mile and we begin to forget how to walk. C.S. Lewis suggested we accept this, that the only alternative is to become heartless ourselves. And I admit I’ve been tempted. I’ve tasted the nectar of not-caring. It’s warm and soothing going down, but there is nothing so like despair as the hangover. Because, when you give up on love, you give up on hope, too.

Life, then, becomes a choice — love and be hurt, or stop living. So, I choose to love.

Even when love is a tree in winter.

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