And that same sacrificial love is the secret of making a home true; and of holding it true; and of bringing it back again if it have been playing the prodigal. Archbishop Trench's fine lines can be made as true in the home, as for the world he was thinking of, in penning them:
"I say to thee, do thou repeat,
To the first man thou mayst meet,
In highway, lane, or open street,
That he and I and all men move
Under a canopy of love
As broad as God's blue heaven above."
Four simple letters of our alphabet, l-o-v-e, tell the one great secret of home making. But all the letters of all the alphabets can't begin to tell all the syllables and words and sentences and paragraphs and chapters and books and libraries of the real thing of love itself. Love means more than loving; that is, more than tender heart, and endearing word, and fond caress. If it be a sufficient telling of what God is to say that He is "love," then that word must mean far more than we have been reading out of it, even in our most thoughtful moods. It must mean purity and wisdom as well as the quickly-thought-of heart-meaning.
That love is to take in all the "heart" and "soul" and "strength" and "mind," as quoted to Jesus from Moses by the inquiring lawyer, suggests strongly that it sweeps in the whole nature of man. The act of love and the life of love must involve not merely the emotional powers, but the keen, wise discipline and use of the mental powers, the strength of the bodily powers, and the very life-principle itself. Clearly love must mean purity for the loved one's sake.
Jesus giving the strength of His thought to thinking through man's needs and disposition, and deciding that dying was the wisest way of winning him,—that was loving man with all His mind. Jesus suffering severest bodily pain on the Cross,—that was loving man with all His strength. Jesus coming down among men to live their life with them through the years,—that was loving man with all His soul or life. And the great heart-love was the secret spring back of all else.
Love means all the powers of one's being disciplined, and devoted in all their keenness and strength and maturity, to the one loved, and that, too, through all the long years until the web of life is fully woven. This is God's secret of life. And this is the one secret of the true home. Such love shows itself, not only in the gripping, driving purpose, but in a thousand little ways. It will be felt in all the planning, in money affairs, in the punctual fitting into the home schedule, in thoughtfulness about little things, in word and act, and look, and very presence.
"True love is but a humble, low born thing
And hath its Food served up in earthen-ware;
It is a thing to walk with, hand in hand,
Through the everydayness of this work-day world,
A love that gives and takes,
Not with flaw-seeking eyes like needle points,
But, loving kindly, ever looks them down.
A love that shall be new and fresh each hour." (James Russell Lowell.)
The critical spirit won't be able to breathe comfortably in that atmosphere. Love sees. It isn't blind. But it thinks, too, and remembers that life is a school, and that a patient word, and a warm hand help much when a tugging load is wearing the spirit sore, and maybe disturbing the control of the tongue a trifle.
"So many little faults we find:
We see them, for not blind is love.
We see them, but if you and I
Perhaps remember them in some bye and bye,
They will not be faults then, grave faults, to you and me,