By Dr. Peter M. Kalellis

February is the month that most of us tend to be inspired and inspiring, loving and lovable. We reach and touch our intimate others, our mates or spouses, our children, close relatives and friends with cards, flowers, presents, and special dinners. When we do something out of a heartfelt expression of love, we experience lasting joy.

When we raise the question, “What is love?” our finite minds cannot easily define love. All descriptions of love by poets, wise teachers, and sages which most of us admire, eventually tend to be inadequate, for love is the essence of life and life itself is a mystery.

What is love? Initially, it starts in the eyes, abides in mind for a while and anchors in the heart and takes roots. It is nature’s cunning way of maintaining procreation. Initially, it could be but an emotional attraction. But genuine love transcends sensuality when two individuals surrender to a sacred union known as marriage, whose purpose is to encourage, support each other’s growth and fulfill their potential as mates.

Love can be the source of great joy when there are no strings attached to the loving process. It’s when people show respect for one another’s personality, share responsibilities, and are interested in each other’s wellness. Spontaneous love comes from within and lasts for a long time.

The most natural experience of love is observing a mother nursing her baby. Unconditionally she gives of herself to her child, day and night according to the infant’s needs. Besides the nine months of gestation, gently and affectionately she holds her baby on her breast, admiring, singing, talking, feeding and protecting the fruit of her love. The child has an amazing ability to perceive and respond intuitively to the mother’s love. It is within this unit of parent and child where love originates and develops. Without this love, the child’s life suffers.

Love concerns the heart, not the physical organ which pumps blood through the body, but rather the center of human emotions, desires, and affections. With the mind, we become informed. With the heart we become involved. And when we talk about love, it means getting emotionally involved. Love, as creative energy, sustains and propagates life.

A great beginning to loving a person is friendship, appreciating and caring for another person’s presence in your life. The Greek word for friendship is philia which means wanting and feeling good to be with a person who accepts you without judgment or criticism, who also feels the same about you. Philia requires that we accept the person we wish to be with, in his or her totality and provide for that person the feeling of joy and acceptance that we would like to experience ourselves. When philia love is present in a marriage, God has bestowed upon those spouses the ultimate bliss.

The qualities of love are eloquently described in the Bible: Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

In other words, love never fails.