Love for an instant.

“It is true enough, of course, that a pungent happiness comes chiefly in certain passing moments; but it is not true that we should think of them as passing. . . To do this is to rationalize happiness, and therefore to destroy it. Happiness is a mystery like religion, and should never be rationalized. . .

“A man may have, for instance, a moment of ecstasy in first love, or a moment of victory in battle. . . The cause which the flag stands for may be foolish and fleeting; the love may be calf-love, and last a week. But the patriot thinks of the flag as eternal; the love thinks of his love as something that cannot end. These moments are filled with eternity; these moments are joyful because they do not seem momentary. . .  Man cannot love mortal things. He can only love immortal things for an instant.”

–G.K. Chesterton in Heretics (1905)

From G.K. Weekly

7 thoughts on “Love for an instant.

  1. For some reason I am not sure why, but this quote irritates me. Perhaps because this is my Darling Husband’s birth and death month. I feel the love of worldly things like my Husband, Monarchs and your family as eternal gifts from Father God.


    1. Dear LL,

      I don’t think Chesterton is talking about anything other than love such as you and your husband shared. It was an example of “pungent happiness [that] comes chiefly in certain passing moments; but it is not true that we should think of them as passing…” I think his point is that our true loves — as opposed to sentiments or fickle preferences, perhaps? — are an expression of the eternal quality of our humanity, our immortality. As he says, “These moments are filled with eternity.”

      Our lives with our husbands (who were/are “immortal things”), our lives generally, are made up of countless moments that are God-infused, and if we are aware of that, we are most blessed.

      I am reminded of Fr. Alexis Trader’s series on grief and how much help it was to me when my husband died. In one post in which I shared my experience, I reflected on the reality that “it is not the loved one who is gone forever, but the nature of the relationship.” It was here:

      Love to you, Dear Friend! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Reading this later, I think one way to express what he’s getting at would be to point out how unfortunate it would be, if, when you were having one of those blessed moments with your loved one, you were to point out how fleeting the moment, and complain about time. You would have lost the moment for lack of love of it.


  2. Just a few weeks ago I wrote a post on the nature of happiness which brought many replies. I think we (me and the commenters) were all agreed that happiness comes when it wills and cannot be striven for.


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