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Love can be defined as “growing and making grow”, not forgetting that a complete and balanced growth involves our emotions, body, irrationality and vulnerability. In this context, love is a way that lovers make in the heart of each other; I, as a lover, can feel that the beloved person is treading a path inside my heart, without me being in control of it, and I perceive that, the same way, I make the other person feel my act of creating my own path in her heart.

A passage in the book of Proverbs, 30:18-19, recalls this reciprocal walking of one inside the other, but in that case it seems that the reference is more directly to sexual intercourse, considered from a negative point of view: “There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man in a young woman”.

I would add, to this idea of the mutual walking one inside the other, a consideration of responsibility, that is essntially use of our critical sense; responsibility here is meant not as a burden, but as a pleasure of perceiving ourselves as adults and managing our feelings by practising our constructive freedom. This way love can be seen as walking and making walk, not only each one helping the other, but also each one in the heart of the other, with feelings of it, and with the pleasure of practising responsibility and freedom.

Additional notes

In reference to spirituality and love, it is useful to consider the topic of “sensitivity”. Both spirituality and love can also be called sensitivity: spirituality is also sensitivity, love is sensitivity. What is sensitivity? We can consider it as a predisposition to give importance: I am sensitive to something if I am predisposed to give importance to that thing, otherwise I am insensitive. Sensitivity, in this sense, is also important because concrete actions are then generated from it: I will do something in politics, for others, in the administration of any good, I will do something if I am sensitive to that thing. If I am insensitive, it is unlikely for me to act, to do something concrete.

There is a kind of sensitivity that can be considered passive, that is, we have got it just because of our nature, and this also involves love. Let’s consider a very simple example: a lover who says to his beloved “I love you” may actually have nothing to be proud of in what he is saying, if “I love you” only means “I am strongly taken by my love for you ”. It is a beautiful, exciting thing, but also very passive: animals as well are taken by their instincts, we could say by their emotions, or we could even call it love, love between couples of animals or love for their offspring, etc. In this context, even love for one’s neighbor can lose its value and meaning. There is a controversy in the Bible, whether faith or charity, faith or love is more important. This can be explored further from this point of view. That is, love can lose its meaning if it is experienced passively only. How can it be that love for one’s neighbor is experienced in a passive manner? It is passive if there is no growth, no progress. The episode of the good thief in the Gospel is very significant: it is absurd that the good thief, who had been a criminal all his life, is forgiven in the end and is even promised paradise by Jesus. What did he do so special? He simply progressed, grew, moved forward, while others, such as the priests, the scribes and the Pharisees, who used to do many good deeds, did not progress, they were stuck to the law. Believers can consider that God doesn’t need them to save the world: he can do directly all the needed good, with his power, his miracles, because he can do everything. What is it then that he cannot do, regarding our love? It is our growing. We have to do the growing, God cannot make us grow by doing everything, as if we were puppets. In this context, then, love for one’s neighbor needs to be experienced as a place of growth, progress, otherwise, both the love of falling in love and the love of one’s neighbor are just self-satisfaction: “How good I am, how many beautiful things are in my heart, how many beautiful things I can do!”. This is passivity.

Passivity is not the devil, but we also need initiative, active commitment. Love, both the falling in love and and love for the neighbor, needs to be experienced within a mentality of walking, of growing, to be complete love. There can be a growth without love, a belief in progress, which however does not look at feelings, emotions, the letting ourselves taken by it. This can be similar to the path of walking. That is, on the road there is also lingering, in addition to moving, there is taking a break. The same happens in love: it is good if there is passivity, joy, the beauty of being taken by emotions, even love for others, but there is also a need to proceed, to actively walk, so that love is also growth.