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What’s love got to do with anything?

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What’s love got to do with anything?

LINDA FITZGIBBON asks us to think about the meaning and expression of love, especially this Mother’s Day.

“Mother’s Day has a spiritual purpose?!” snapped my cousin Mily.

She clearly wasn’t buying this idea.

She’d asked me for suggestions for a Mother’s Day pressie for her mum, my first cousin, and I offered the idea of something that I had seen on Facebook: a small vial of perfume called Love. I added that I liked the spiritual purpose of it.

As Mily is a young, hip girl, I thought that she’d be receptive to an ‘alternative’ idea for a gift. It seems that I was mistaken. I wondered what she thought love was. However, instead of merely assuming what my teenaged cousin thought, I asked her about love and its meaning. She didn’t have much to say.

The idea of love is in songs, movies, novels, social media and advertising.

Where do these ideas come from? Obviously, they come from the culture around us. Love, in popular culture, often refers to romantic love, doesn’t it?

“Can’t we use the word ‘love’ and ‘mum’ in the same sentence?” I asked Mily. She turned and looked at me, and asked me what I meant. Did she think that ‘love’ and ‘mum’ in the same sentence was a bit maudlin – a bit soppy?

Ahead of love’s meaning from popular culture, the Bible in 1 Corinthians 3 shares that: “Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It does not dishonour others.  It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs …  It always protects, always trusts,  always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Sounds like love to and from a mother to me, but did Mily understand this Biblical quote?

I asked Mily to think about her mum and patience. Was she patient? Her mum and kindness. Was she kind? Her mum and forgiveness. Did she forgive? Her mum and protection. Did she protect? Her mum and even-temperedness. Was she tempered? Her mum and hopefulness. Was she hopeful?

Mily’s face and eyes softened and showed she had understood that her mum had all of these attributes. Her mother expressed love and showed love to Mily, along with the rest of their family. In return for love from her mother, Milly ordered the Love perfume.  I hope they both enjoy the exchange.

Now, what about the rest of us? Can we apply love to our neighbours, friends and colleagues? Can we? We can!

We can practise patience, kindness, letting go of envy, pride and boastfulness. We can try to honour others, and to give up a self-centred concern, be slow to anger, while not keeping a scorecard. We can’t really practise all of these things at once. We can start somewhere. But where? How?

Possibly by following the advice of Gautama Buddha: “Radiate boundless love towards the entire world – above, beyond and across – unhindered …”

‘Radiate’ – what a lovely word. Love, as a spiritual behaviour, is a bellwether for our culture, communities and families.

 Linda Fitzgibbon has a PhD in Applied Linguistics, and is a trained and experienced facilitator with the Virtues Project™. Linda is now retired, and lives on the Sunshine Coast. She can be contacted at


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