Valentine’s Day is approaching.
It’s time to buy a padlock, book a flight to Paris with your true love, and be “love-locked” happily ever after.
That’s what tens of thousands of couples have been doing for the better part of the last decade in the City of Light.
Sweethearts stand on one of the bridges over the River Seine that winds its way through Paris. They write their names on a padlock, hook it to the wire mesh alongside the protective railing, then close it tight.
Then they throw the key into the river.
With that they joyfully embrace in the ardent hope that they have just secured their love forever.
Romantics think it’s an awesome new ritual. Parisian civic authorities have been considerably less enchanted. Three years ago, citing public safety (and complaints of visual pollution) they began to remove many of the locks.
Officials estimate that lovers have left 45 tons of padlocks, bike locks, antique locks, chain locks, and handcuffs to bridge railings, wire-mesh panels, lamps, signs, and even some of Paris’ famous riverside sculptures.
Not to mention the incredible number of keys that now litter the bottom of the Seine.
It’s fair to wonder if a lock is the ideal symbol for shared affection. Or whether love is rekindled every time someone sighs, “Honey, isn’t it great that our names are on those handcuffs attached to the Pont des Arts?”
French philosopher Alain Badiou gently points out that true love is not a prison or a possession. “True lovers protect each other’s freedom.”
But lovers also become anxious. We fear change. No wonder we’re drawn to rituals that offer the promise of stability. Wouldn’t it be great to lock things down?
According to the new love-lock tradition, love will last as long as that lock stays fastened.
Most couples, however, are discovering that staying together requires a lot more effort than plunking a key into a river.
Author Ernest Becker coined the term Apocalyptic Marriage – the illusion that if I just find that one perfect person, my true soul mate, then everything broken in my life will be repaired. Everything messed up in my heart and my head will be healed.
There’s just one problem with that idea: now my partner has to be God. And you thought coming up with the perfect Valentine’s Day gift was going to be tough.
No one can possibly live up to such an expectation.
Human love relationships are wonderful. They provide the gifts of companionship, support, and security. But only God can help us discover our true identity, find hope for the future, and begin to grasp the meaning of life.
Getting “love-locked” with another person is a great way to say, “I’m in this with you forever!”
But only God can say, “I actually know what forever means.”
And God will never change his mind about loving us.
— Authored by Glenn McDonald