Years ago when I was studying poetry, I read a poem by Christopher Marlowe, a poem entitled “A Passionate Shepherd to His Love.” Needless to say, it was a love poem such as to entreat a young woman to enter a romantic relationship full of the pleasures of love enjoyed in a natural setting. Innocent seeming on the one hand, but a poem of romantic enticement, nevertheless. Yet that first line, “Come live with me and be my love” echoes constantly in my heart throughout the day as I sing it to Christ, the love of my heart, as I entreat Him to live with me in the sacrament of every moment and to be the great love of my life. It is my love song. It is my act of spiritual communion.
The irony of the line is not lost on me. How different this sweet love of Christ from that of Marlowe. The love of the Shepherd is not one of posies and garlands, but one of shared suffering for the sheep, danger, toil, and snares. But all the delicacy, gentleness, and tenderness are there too. That line is so rich for me, encompassing as it does, all of love, the joys and the pain. My love is crucified, but above all, He is my love.
How well this line recalls the love in the Canticle of Canticles. The lover comes down to His garden to browse among the lilies. This image is another one that has captured my heart and my imagination. Before Mass daily, I beg Mother Mary to walk through the garden with me, to cover the garden of this heart of mine with the roses of love and the lilies of perfect purity—to make of this garden of mine a garden of delight, repose, refreshment, and enjoyment for Christ. I think often that Jesus is the Garden of Delight of the Father—how Abba enjoys His Well-Beloved. I would be the Garden of Delight for the Son.
In one of her holy hours, I learned from Venerable Conchita that no language of love is too strong for the God-Man. Conchita loved Him like crazy—remember that old song? “I love you like crazy!” We can laugh and smile with Him and tell Him anything. He knows and loves it when we talk in these intimate ways to Him.
Conchita tells Him: “Your gaze draws me…Your smiles make me surrender…Your humility annihilates me…Your sweetness embarrasses me…Your self-denial make me blush…and Your pain and suffering trace themselves on the depths of my soul, bewildering me. And all of Your love and sufferings cries out to me very loudly, “LOVE! SUFFER!” and I want to love unto delirium…and I want to suffer unto martyrdom….And my tenderness and my kisses, and my body and my soul, and my nights and my days, and my time and my heart, and my love and my suffering are for You and shall be only for You. And it grieves me to not love You, Jesus, and I am delirious over possessing You…and I dream about You at night and I delight in You during the day…and I eat You, and I drink You…and I inhale You and I exhale You, and very often I remain spellbound by Your charms…by Your beauty…by Your charity…by Your tenderness….”
Need I continue? Our love is too conservative, too proper, and too tame. Let us get a little wild with Him. Can we speak too strongly? I am tame indeed, to pray simply, “Come live with me and be my Love.”