Here's a line from Hugo's Les Miserables that captured me:
Life's greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved.
Convinced we are loved.
Think about that one a while...
Picture in your mind our churches - full to the brim on Sunday mornings with people who have convinced themselves that a higher being loves them - unconditionally.
Rewind the last fight you had with someone close to you - was there an element of feeling UNconvinced of that person's love for you?
Try to imagine a space on your life's timeline when you were so convinced you were loved that nothing else mattered. Nothing else. Now remember how bad it feels when you let yourself believe you are not loved. Doesn't everything seem to be wrong?
So, there it is, I think. Finally. The meaning of life. Our greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved. - French poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist Victor Hugo.
I bring this up today because of a photo that was emailed to me about an hour ago.
This is my oldest son and his fiance. They are standing in the home of some of our dearest friends...people who have known this soon-to-be-married man since he was four years old. My son is wearing an apron that has just been given to him by these important people in his life. It is the apron that belonged to their chef son - a young man who my son held as his lifelong best buddy.
That talented young chef died in May of 2007 at the age of 25, after a long day working in the kitchen of Louisville, Kentucky's toniest restaurant. This apron is among the few physical treasures that did not disappear with that kid in the fire at his apartment that terrible night.
This is a gift that was not given without some serious thought about the recipient.
I'm calling it a mighty grand show of love. I'm convinced.
And, even though the photo brings tears to my eyes, it does feel awfully good - to be loved like that.
I am inspired to enhance a familiar passage of scripture (Ephesians 6):
Put on the full armor of God...
The belt of Truth,
The breastplate of Righteousness,
The shield of Faith,
The helmet of Salvation,
The sword of the Spirit,
The APRON of Love.
And then go about your business in this world dunked in the happiness that comes when you are absolutely convinced you are loved.