Saturday, June 21, 2014

Heart's Content

It has been a year since my wife and I took our first ever vacation without our children. Not only does the trip's anniversary bring back a flood of memories of St. John's, NL, my wife recently finished a painting of the harbour. We now have a constant reminder of our fantastic trip to the most easterly part of our continent.

Painting of St. John's harbour (copyright, all rights reserved)
As we reminisce, the names of some Newfoundland towns and fishing villages come to mind. I love how things get their names in NL; there's always a story. And if you look past the embellishment of the story teller, they are pretty practical names. St John's is named after St. John the Baptist. Mistaken Point saw lots of shipwrecks because sailors mistook it for the main point around a peninsula, and by the time they realized their mistake it was often too late.

Our drive up one of the many picturesque coastlines of Newfoundland took us through three towns named Heart's Desire, Heart's Delight and Heart's Content. They were quaint little fishing villages along the rugged coast that clearly indicates why the island part of the province is called The Rock

As we drove through these villages, I started thinking that names are more than just cute or quaint, they have a theological meaning. The heart is the symbol of love, and our sojourn through these towns took us on a journey through the stages or distinctions love in Greek—eros, philia and agape.*

First we pass through Heart's Desire. Eros is the passionate or physical love. I think that's usually the first stage of love, an emotional response more than a conscious decision to love the other.

A little farther up the coast we pass through Heart's Delight. Philia is more of a friendly or familial love. Because it requires loyalty and virtue, I place this as a higher form of love than eros. We need to know the beloved before we are able to offer philial love and therefore requires a conscious decision to love the other.

Our journey of love ends with Heart's Content—agape—where we find unconditional love, a more spiritual love. Our hearts' are content; they are no longer restless because they can rest in the infinite and unconditional love of God that St. Paul describes in 1 Cor 13. The will of the lover and beloved are unified, and we can find true peace and contentment.

May our journeys of life always end in Heart's Content.

*I purposely omit storge because of it's application is almost exclusively meant for familial relationships and, well, there are only three towns.

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