My friend and I found two open seats near the front of the classroom. We sat down and pulled out our notebooks and pens. Within minutes, the room filled with eager students ranging from ages 18 to 75. The instructor began an informative discussion about the three Greek words that define the most important word in the English language...L-O-V-E.
The instructor explained that . . .
"Eros is the romantic kind of love."
"Philos is brotherly love, or the deep love you have for family members and good friends. "
"Agape love is god-like love. The unconditional, giving, serving, and sacrificing kind of love."
Interestingly enough, as the instructor began describing eros, I spotted a young couple (very young) sitting near the exit door. They couldn't keep their hands off each other. I thought to myself, "Ah, ha! That's eros in action." And believe me, there was action. Fingers through the hair, back rubs, shoulder rubs, and arm tickles. For 50 minutes straight the strawberry blonde and her bronzed counterpart were obviously engaged in eros. I guess you could say they were a very effective visual aid. (Ha!)
Next, the instructor introduced philos. The bonding kind of love you feel for a dear family member or a good friend. This kind of love is deep and has the other person's best interest at heart. I looked around the room. And what do you know? To the right of me, sat a mom and a daughter. They were linked arm in arm. They had to be mother and daughter because the dark haired one looked like a younger version of the gray-haired one. They seemed very close. At one point, the dark-haired one pulled out a granola bar, split it half and gave a piece to the gray-haired one. "Okay," I thought. There's philos in action." Again, another great visual aid.
Well, next, the instructor introduced agape love. Now, keep in mind, I've been in classes all day. My rear end is starting to go numb. My mind is wandering to what I'm going to make for dinner and which children will have what homework. "Okay, back on track. Back to agape." I tried to focus.
So, the instructor then explained that AGAPE is the God-like love—unconditional love that forgives and endures. He talked about how agape love could not be shaken or altered and that it is the heart of God that we as humans would experience if we could experience love in its fullness. I think to myself, "Well, there's no visual aid for that." I got my protein bar out of my bag and took a bite. My eyes wandered. That's when I noticed a couple sitting right in front of me. A gray-haired man and a gray-haired woman. I guessed they were in their late 60s. There was nothing stand-out obvious about this couple except for, at one point, the husband fixed his wife's knitted sweater that had fallen off her shoulder. How sweet. Then, it happened. A long, loud, bodily sound accompanied by a gassy smell came from the gray-haired woman. Ugghh! Can you imagine a quiet room of 200 people and having that happen to you? Unfortunately, there was no way to disguise it. She had "tooted" and everyone—at least those of us close by—knew it. I shifted in my chair feeling her pain but at the same time feeling gratitude that it was her and not I. (Does that count as philos?)
Well, right then, this woman's husband, slowly but surely, lifted his right arm, stretched it around her and lovingly patted her on her the shoulder. He even gave her a little pull towards him as if to say, "It's okay. I love you."
"Ah! Agape!" I couldn't resist. I turned to my friend and whispered, "Did you see that? THAT! THAT'S AGAPE!" We giggled silently with hearts full! We had witnessed Agape at its peak. Maybe no one else around thought so. But we sure did. And it was beautiful! (A little smelly, but beautiful.)
That day, I can honestly say love was in the air!
To the couple who sat in front of me at Education Week 2009, I thank you! In you, I saw AGAPE in action. You know, I can't remember much more about that class—not even the instructor's name. But thanks to those three couples, I will remember the lessons of love never to be forgotten.
Whatever you see in normal,
every day life...there is a story to tell. Tell it.
Have a great week everyone.
--Jodi Marie Robinson