The Rockin' Rev February 2022
William Shakespeare was a renowned English poet, playwright, and actor born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language.
I’m not a great student of William Shakespeare (I remember reading Romeo and Juliet in my schooldays) but I do know enough about his writings to say that there are two reoccurring themes in the writing of Shakespeare. Those two recurring themes are love and immortality.
Like most sensitive writers and poets and philosophers, Shakespeare had an ongoing problem. He could see so much that was beautiful and loveable in the world but knew that it was fragile, and it was fleeting.
Shakespeare wrestled mentally and emotionally with the concept of love. In many of the sonnets he seemed to be reaching out for love. He knew it ought to be there, but he didn’t know where to find it. The following quote from one of Shakespeare’s sonnets (Sonnet 116) will illustrate what I mean:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments. Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove. O no! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wand'ring bark, whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. Love's not time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle's compass come; love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me prov'd, I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.
Whatever else can be said about Shakespeare’s sonnet the one thing that comes across very clearly is that he had a very high expectation of love. This kind of thing makes Shakespeare very relatable. We all have, or should have, a high expectation of love.
Our high expectation of love might explain why we mark St Valentine's day each year on the fourteenth of February. It's the day when people show their affection for someone by sending cards, flowers, or chocolates, along with messages of love.
True love will never go out of fashion which is why it has such a prominent place in the Bible. We read, for example in the writings of St Paul:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour 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 hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
High expectations, indeed!
Rev Brian Hall
Vicar, St Andrew’s Church
published by St Andrew's Church in the Gorleston Community Magazine
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