Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
This particular stanza has a lot to unpack. I think I could write an entire week of blogs on just the first two words along – BE YOURSELF. Something that seems so simple is so hard to do in reality. It’s hard to be authentic all the time. As much as I want to remember that there will always be greater and lesser persons than myself, I still have a hard time just being myself. Because what if people don’t like me? What if they think I’m odd or don’t like my sense of humor or judge me before they really know me? What if…what if…what if…
Especially do not feign affection is one of my favorite lines in this poem. Such a humble reminder to love purely, honestly, and gently. Do not be fake with your love or withhold it, but be real in it. Give your love without condition, and know that it is real. We may get hurt when we love, but don’t let that make you cynical. Instead, be reminded that love is the one thing that lasts through it all. Every day we get to choose love. And that choice means that throughout everything, love should be perennial, returning, and ever-lasting.
As I think about Lent, my thoughts immediately go to love – the kind of eternal, perennial love that doesn’t change and is not fake. God was not feigning affection when He sent his son to die in my place; he was not withholding love during that long, painful walk, carrying the cross. Authentic love is the only love that would allow a father to sacrifice his son, to be willing to go through the agony of separation from yours, in order to bridge the gap between heaven and earth. That is the kind of love referred to here; affection that knows no limits or boundaries.