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  • Andre Lamartin

A Brave Lesson In Love

Though the company of silence is sometimes mistaken for solitude, the silent presence of a close friend always by my side has been a brave lesson in love. When so much in the world seemed inimical to my personal happiness, my dog Conan gave me ample hope and full reason to smile while striving for brighter days. Conan brought the illuminating spark of life to an otherwise dark world where true love was wantonly treated as a serious liability, if not a punishable crime. Always patiently by my side, we would constantly go for long walks where great spiritual peace could be experienced despite the passing of troubled years. Daily visiting the beach to contemplate the restless beauty of the sea, we would remind one another of the urgent need to always remain present in the moment, seizing and enjoying life despite the many impending spiritual trials and personal struggles only a protean future could portend.

Always grateful for the time we spent together, Conan was a friend so dear and close to my heart. While so many others left, he kindly remained by my side through both blessed days and cursed nights. His love for our family was entirely non-judgmental in nature, never once relying on false hopes, superficial appearances or vain expectations. Never did Conan discriminate against anyone based on how well they were dressed, nor manipulate others based on their long list of assets. Never did he treat anyone solely based on how much money they had in the bank, nor act subserviently only because of how politically powerful they claimed to be. Never the one to fawn over others simply because of how influential they were in society, Conan treated all others as ends in themselves, never simply as means. Entirely foreign to him was the concept of betraying a loved one merely for a percentage. Within his humble list of personal priorities, Conan always had the wellbeing of his loved ones held in the highest possible regard. To betray the best interests of a loved one was quite simply to betray himself. He always seemed to understand that his personal wellbeing was inextricably related to the general welfare of his family as a whole and his owner in particular.

Without undue subterfuge or crass manipulation, Conan only expected to be treated the same way he treated others, with unbound love, reciprocal care, sincere admiration and silent respect. Whatever lingering pain he experienced while living abandoned out on ultraviolent streets was never welcomed in his new home. His new family cared for him just as he cared for us. His unvarnished truth was loving his family just as he was now loved himself. Doing so despite the many scars of a violent past was certainly no easy task. Doing so despite the lingering trauma of past abandonment was never too much to ask. Always striving to overcome the unforgiving violence of mean streets, Conan never allowed himself to believe the future would simply be a heartless repetition of the past. The future was ours to tame and what a joyful ride could it be.

Always loved and adored as an important member of our family, Conan's sincere zest for life also proved contagious, especially during our weekly visits to the local park. Constant was the reminder to always value the simple pleasures in life, even despite whatever unexpected spiritual trials should ineluctably be overcome. Before my family finally rescued him, Conan's prior abandonment on ultraviolent streets exacted a heavy toll on his soul. His tragic past trauma compelled him to eschew most civilized manners for a subdued joy, heartwrenching sincerity, honest humility and poignant vulnerability his beaming eyes dare never betray. Originally named by my brother after the barbarian of comic book renown and motion picture fame, Conan gradually learned how to behave in his new home, loving our family with a candid heart, humble disposition, and unswerving dedication.

When now thinking about those magical days, one can do so only with a deep sigh. My best friend is no longer with me, having succumbed to a mysterious renal illness apparently brought about by old age. Even the best love and care my family could provide failed to save his life. His absence by my side is so dearly felt that the surviving memories of those days only allows me to concetrate on the bright side of an otherwise dark era. Why earnest hope should have faltered me so is a religious question only true faith in the divine can ever assail. Conan taught me to be grateful for the bright side of life, one always replendent with great joy despite the many exacting challenges and spiritual tribulations accursing this otherwise difficult time. How sincerely grateful can one be to have enjoyed the stalwart company of such a valiant friend during a dark and troubled era. His lancinating desire for security and earnest thirst for freedom were deep longings equally shared with myself.

Conan relished spending time outdoors with a contagiously refreshing love so characteristic of those who so dearly value freedom. Our long walks were a time to experience life the way it was originally meant to be lived, always present in the moment. Holding him close in my arms during our daily visits to the beach, those lovingly tight embraces reminded me how good and peaceful life can be. Despite the many painful quandaries to accompany those otherwise dark days, merely taking the requisite time to enjoy the simplicity of life was in itself a brave lesson in love. Never one to find lasting contentment while tragically living in confined spaces, Conan always valued the free exploration of our neighborhood and surrounding areas. His contagious hope in the future was always silently revealed by his daily elation with the outdoors. Keeping abreast of current events surrounding our community was something he cherished by tracking the many smells and scent trails informing him how his local friends were doing.

Although his fondness for barbecue remained a reason to spoil him whenever possible, never did he prioritize food over the company of loved ones. He brought our people together by uniting the family around him, caring for each and every family member in his own personal way. His eyes were a window into his emotional life, always silently communicating his feelings for life in general and our family in particular. He was certainly not one so easily deceived by the enticing comfort and the many trappings of modern life. His love for our family was always his highest priority even despite the many surviving scars of a tragic abandonment, one originally suffered before being so lovingly rescued from unforgiving streets. Always a peacemaker, Conan was never one to taunt family members, only finding contentment with family ties entirely based on reciprocal love, boundless affection, sprightly joy, and mutual support. To safeguard the welfare of his family was also invariably to protect his own.

While considering the many biblical lessons regarding the meaning of love, Conan seemed to embody and personify the very divine definition originally defended by Saint Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians. As my best friend, Conan always reminded me of how "love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongs, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away."

This all redeeming love so impassionedly described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is what washes away whatever sins we may have committed during the tortuous course of our lives. Salvation is granted only to those who have already proven as much, loving God with all our beings while loving our neighbors as ourselves. The more we embrace this verity, the more we learn how to apply the many lessons of the Bible to our own lives, always in accordance with the divine will and sacred inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The price of eternity is a love always refusing to bow even before time itself. The boundless love Conan always so humbly shared with my family certainly deserves to be eternally valued, timelessly venerated and spiritually adored.

On this everlasting importance of love, Saint Paul also wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3: "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I have nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give my body over to hardship so that I may boast, but have not love, I gain nothing." He would later conclude in 1 Corinthians 13:13: "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." Without speaking the eternal language of love one has no way to express his faith in the divine, nor can one have hope in a future that would invariably bring only death and everlasting destruction. As St. Paul so sincerely admonished, without love a Christian simply has nothing.

In no small measure did my best friend Conan live up to these words despite all the violence and abandonment suffered before we finally met. In his humble, highly appreciative and entirely unassuming way, Conan walked alongside me through one of the most difficult chapters of my life, when so much that was so highly praised and dearly valued was under unrelenting spiritual attack on so many different levels. Never losing hope in a brighter future for which we fought on a daily basis, sometimes against seemingly overwhelming odds, my best friend and I never forgot that without love there can be no spiritual salvation. True love nourishes not only the heart, but also the mind, body and soul, breathing life into the most important of biblical commandments.

For all that can be said about success, those failing to understand and master this timeless lesson during the course of their lives can never faithfully aspire to be truly saved mainly because they can never sincerely claim to have truly loved. Spiritual salvation is reserved only for those who have mastered the two most important biblical commandments of the Christian religion, those pertaining to the love of God and the love for your neighbor as yourself. The golden rule that teaches us to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves can only be properly applied by those who first understand the divine meaning of love, as explained by both Jesus Christ and Saint Paul. Christ went so far as to say that the lovingly application of the golden rule represented the very embodiment of all biblical law and the prophets, as professed in Matthew 7:12: "So in everything, always do unto others as you would have them do unto you, for this sums up all the law and the prophets."

Having a deep consideration for the wellbeing of others is what allows us to sincerely love our neighbors as we love ourselves, forging bonds of mutual trust and reciprocity never so easily broken. Mastering this love always implies mastering the application of the Gospel to our own lives, be it within or without the sometimes suffocating confines of the church. The price to pay for failure in this regard should never be so wantonly dismissed. Disbelief in love entirely compromises human relationships because it allows people to be used and manipulated simply as a means to an end. Never being truly valued as a legitimate spiritual end in itself, people are then customarily mistreated, oppressed and tortured by a mendacious world of heartless violence where speaking and defending the truth has become a punishable liability in its own right. If all a man wants to do is use and manipulate others, always for the most self-serving of purposes and egotistical of reasons, lies and violence will easily become his native language of choice.

It is by no means a coincidence that those who misunderstand the meaning of love also misunderstand the many lessons of the Gospel, not to mention of life itself. In any self-respecting religion, living by divinely inspired words always implies rejecting hypocrisy as an agreeable way of life. Living by the Gospel first means setting a personal example through one's own words, choices, actions and moral conduct. This remains true even throughout the most painfully irascible tempests of life itself. Understanding and abiding by the true meaning of love is of paramount importance to the spiritual significance of Christianity as a whole. Why faith in the divine should never crown hypocrisy as the acceptable price of leadership has always remained clear for anyone to contemplate. A messiah whose love is blindness will true light just never see.

Conan was certainly never one to disparage love, proving that salvation is only possible for those whose lives have embodied the most noble of divine sentiments, even despite all the accompanying persecution, unforgiving violence and surrounding darkness of the undertaking. Mastery of love can even be seen in how committed owners truly care and feel for their family pets, sharing a sentimental bond entirely divine in nature. That a canine's selfless love for his family also justifies the importance accredited to his presence in our lives is a true testament to his close lifelong embrace of the most noble of divine emotions. In such a violently domineering world, one where true love is always under constant relentless attack, defending the Gospel also means defending all the sincere love pervading one´s life. Respect for the two most important commandments of the Bible have always required as much. This is the only way to first love God with all our minds, hearts and souls while later loving our neighbors as ourselves. This is the only way our sins can ever be remitted as the price of atonement is love itself.

Only through love can even the most heartbreaking of transgressions be truly forgiven. This requires undying patience, committed resilience, sincere humility, and the considerable strength of character necessary to defend a love refusing to bow even before time itself. The rare moments when Conan was unfairly treated never did he refuse to sincerely forgive those who otherwise so humbly earned his love and respect. Violent exchanges were nearly unheard of and the usual peace of family life was only rarely broken by whatever unfortunate misunderstandings may have occasionally conspired against us. When family problems did arise, much patience was required to address them without first seeking violent recourse to entirely unwarranted reprimands. Only a farsical love would have indulged violence as a legitimate means of familial conflict resolution. That only those truly deserving of eternal life are equally deserving of eternal patience was something to behold.

Although love can never simply claim to be a universal language over which all living beings are entirely fluent and conversant, those who learned to master it properly during the course of their lives should be the ones saved from eternal destruction. Through his undying love and companionship, this much my friend Conan once taught me. There is also ample biblical evidence to support this view. Many were the animals God chose to save alongside Noah and his immediate family during diluvial times. Even throughout this singular moment of epic punishment and cleansing destruction, the requisite time was taken to save those whose love merited spiritual salvation, always being protected and dignified by divine grace. Though the laws of man have always left much to be desired, the same cannot be said of a divine justice that values and defends love above all else. Despite being so incredibly disappointed at mankind's many injustices, God´s divine love for Creation knew no bounds. The same cannot be said about man himself.

Mankind´s dominion over Creation was only meant to be rightfully exercised while in strict obedience of the two most important commandments of biblical law, always within the divine bounds of the defense of love. Lest man's dominion over Creation be questioned by those having greater mastery of love as a divine language of eternal communication, animals who so easily love their owners should only be so easily loved themselves. To love and care for animals is also one of the many ways of demonstrating one's love and appreciation for life and Creation as a whole, not to mention the Creator himself. A garden can only be deemed truly beautiful if a loving gardner takes excellent care of it through each and every season. To vanquish time itself is to embrace and defend a divine love always refusing to surrender before even the most irascible and tragic vicissitudes of daily life. Eternity always beckons those well versed and adept at the divine language of endless love.

The spiritual certainty of one day being fully reunited with my best friend in Heaven is entirely predicated on this eternal definition of love, a divine one that never dies. Until such a day should come to pass, cherished are the memories of the times when the close company of my best friend so dearly helped me better understand both the meaning of love and the meaning of life itself. Despite the many pains of daily spiritual warfare, the requisite time should always be taken to remember brighter days still rendering life so worth living and fighting for. As previously noted, no sacred book alone will ever teach us how to love if life itself fails to do so. A true friend who always reminds us of the divine meaning of love, through both good and bad times, is most certainly the best friend we could ever hope to have. Until we finally meet again dear friend, may your priceless love always be so sincerely cherished and eternally embraced. Your life was a brave lesson in love no one should ever dare forget. In a heartless world where unforgiving lies and blind violence so often seem to reign unimpeded, only the brave dare defend a divine concept of love, one always defying even time itself.

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