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What’s love got to do with it?

| Friday, August 29, 2014

I recently attended the wedding of a friend from Notre Dame. Being there reminded me of a great feeling: that feeling you get when your favorite song comes on the radio or your iPod and it gets you amped and transports you to a different place.

You might also be familiar with what I call, “The Look.” It usually only takes a couple of bars of music to materialize, but it’s that moment where you realize that there is someone else in the room who gets your excitement. It’s the moment where it becomes clear there’s somebody else (usually a friend) who shares the understanding that next few minutes will register nothing short of “awesome” on the enjoyment Richter scale.

And so, you look at that friend and he/she looks back and you. In that moment, no words need to be spoken. It’s a mutual experience of understanding. You know what’s going to happen. You know both of you are going to sing at the top of your lungs and do the same “awesome” dance moves you’ve always done. And you know that you will look like a fool.  But you’re okay with it.  They’re the moves you’ve always done together, and it just wouldn’t make sense to do them any other way.

Although I don’t remember hearing it at the wedding, my song is Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It?”

I’ve given “The Look” and flailed my arms and legs foolishly countless times during this song. But while I love what comes over me during this song, I actually just really love the question: What DOES love have to do with it? With anything?

I’ve realized countless times that I really needed to wrestle with this question at certain points in my life. I’ve wrestled to overcome the lie that love did not have anything to do with my life, or that I had to do something to earn it. And those were the times I always seemed to hear the song.

Slowly but surely I’ve come to realize that each “hearing” of the song gave me the opportunities to see the truth of the question’s answer — that love really has EVERYTHING to do with it.

I started really wrestling with Tina’s question at my high school dances, realizing that my search for love need not go far. I found love through the lives of my closest friends who showed me what unconditional love looked like, from the setting of a stage. We learned to support one another through four years of dropped lines and missed cues. The scripts revealed our vulnerabilities, our weaknesses and our insecurities, but we picked each other up anyway.

And at Notre Dame, I wrestled with Tina’s question in the Dome, in tents, in Lafortune and at the Backer. Although the “stage” was different, I realized again that my search for love needn’t lead me far.  There, surrounded by those I had travelled with, sang with, studied with and goofed off with, I saw the ever present truth of a love that I had so continually struggled to see. Here again was the answer to Tina’s question, in the faces and hands of the people who saw me dance like a fool, but who, at the end of the night, still loved me anyway.

Yes, love has everything to do with it. Love had sustained me in the tough moments and given me joy in the good ones. And it continues to do so. Without the love of my high school and college friends, I wouldn’t know who Scott Boyle was.

Dumbledore’s words to Harry in “Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone” I think capture it well:

“Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, not a visible sign …but to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.”

And he continues in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:” “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Perhaps we can make this a year of looking for love’s light.

So, listen to music. Dance.  Give “The Look.” Act like a fool sometimes. I’d venture to guess that those moments (and the people in them) will be the “visible marks” that remind us of a great truth: there was a person whose love died to save us, and make us who we are too.  Together, let’s be the living answers to Tina’s question, reminding everyone that God’s love, which lives in people, really does have everything to do with it.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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