Love flowing freely is a wonder to behold. Think back. You know the feeling. It’s that pure, can’t-stop-it-and-why-would-you thing that happens when you meet another who sparks you, the sort of falling-in-love kind of love that brings spectacular joy without condition or expectation or design or hope. It wants nothing; it just is. Your souls spark an ember at first meeting, the ember catches flame and, when the love is returned, it consumes your whole being and warms everyone in your radius.
I believe I’d grown a bit out of touch with the magic of this glow, the spectacular power of seemingly out-of-nowhere, ancient love. Then on the way home from school yesterday, Charlie opened his mouth, seemingly out of nowhere, and we all grew warmer.
Charlie: (Mumbling) Mommy, I’m in love with Rosie*.
Me: What, bud?
Charlie: Oh, never mind. I didn’t say anything.
Me: Babe, did you just say you’re in love with Rosie?
Charlie: (Getting worked up, about to cry) Yes, I did! I said that, ok?!
Me: (Gushing) That’s wonderful, Charlie! Wow! I’m so happy for you that you feel so much love for Rosie. How does it feel in your body to feel this way about someone? How does your heart feel?
Charlie: (doing his little half-smile.) Really, really good. Awesome, even.
Charlie: I thought you would be mad at me.
I admit, my gut-nanosecond reaction was to think, “What the—? But he’s too young for this kind of…” And then I remembered that falling in love is recognizing the infinite light in another, and no one is too young or too old for that.
Falling in love is seeing the truth of another’s perfection and him or her beaming your own perfection back at you. It’s pure. It’s beautiful. It’s world enhancing. It’s everything and the only thing. And, without a doubt, this glimpse of heaven is entirely accessible to two bright-as-the-sun five-year-olds.
Me: Mad at you? No way! Being in love is such an amazing feeling and I’m so happy for you that you get to feel this way for your friend. This is a huge deal, Charlie. You must enjoy it! It’s absolutely wonderful. You can’t control who you end up loving, I know that. So I will never be mad at you for falling in love with someone.
Charlie: Ok, Mommy. That’s good. Thanks. (smiles.) I’m just really in love with Rosie.
In the words of Rosie’s supercool mom: “If only love could stay this simple forever.”
Kindergartners, they only know one way to love: With abandon and without expectation. Grownups, on the other hand, we don’t always get this. And if we ever did, we may have forgotten it by now. We’re so quick to build walls, apply stipulations, put up protections, drive expectations, make demands, play games and otherwise move further away from the unconditional, unattached purity of that first divinely orchestrated spark.
Kindergartners, they don’t want to hold the other, they just want to love the other. For Charlie and Rosie, there are no plans or aspirations, for example. Just loving is quite enough.
We arrived home, went inside and opened his backpack for the note Rosie’s mom said would be in his folder. She’d written him a note over winter break, presumably because the only thing that feels more victorious than simply loving is speaking it aloud. He opened the note slowly and intentionally, savoring the moment. I read it to him, right down to the “P.S. I love you” part, and he smiled.
“That’s so nice,” he said. “I’m hungry. Can I eat something?”
A couple moments passed as we dug into the pantry and then…
Me: How did it feel to read that super sweet letter from Rosie?
Charlie: Awesome. So good I almost feel like I could cry. Can I have some pretzels now?
Even at this stage of life, maybe it can stay that simple. I, for one, am going to take a page out of Charlie and Rosie’s book, and look for the perfection in others, raze my walls and detach from expectations. If just loving each other is enough for them, maybe it’s enough for all of us.
(*Rosie’s name has been changed.)