As you may remember, the theme for our mid-week Lenten services is “Love Casts Out Fear.” I have run into a couple of things about love that I didn’t know or I hadn’t remembered about the science and power of love.
Recently I was listening to a TED talk (ideas worth spreading) recently. The neurobiologist was talking about the brain’s response to love. The intense “high” of love is as powerful as the craving an addict has for cocaine. She compared the presence of serotonin in the brain to having a “person camped out in the garage of your brain.” These images highlight the strength and power of love.
Later on, in the week I began to read one of Anne Lamott’s books. She wrote about a friend named Janet. Janet was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. Her doctor gave her a year to live. She did all the chemo and radiation as well alternative modalities; supplements, meditation, and affirmations she found at a New Age healing clinic where the basic teaching was love is the only truth and love heals.
Upon her return home, she gathered her closest friends and family together. At this meeting she told them things had to change now that she was fighting for her life. The undercurrents of hostile ribbing and self-doubt disguised as humor had to go. She wanted to be surrounded by love, listening and gentler humor. Her family and friends agreed. Gatherings were filled with milder humor, genuine respect, and sweetness.
After a few months, Janet’s health steadily improved.
In the midst of her treatment, Janet’s oldest son unexpectedly died. The death of a child is one of the hardest losses to experience. Janet’s family worried that her health would decline following the unimaginable loss. They redoubled their efforts to surround Janet and themselves with love. The loss was keenly felt, but all of them were able to weather the bleak grief because of love. In fact, Janet lived five years beyond the death of her son and the projected life expectancy mentioned by her doctor.
Through scientific evidence and narratives like Janet’s we discover that the love of God through Christ does indeed transform the darkness. Love casts out fear.
Here is a closing quote from Anne Lamott: “Love has bridged the high-rises of despair we were about to fall between. Love has been a penlight in the blackest, bleakest nights. Love has been a wild animal, a poultice, a dinghy, a coat. Love is why we have hope.”