• Selfless love of one person for another without sexual implications.

  • The love of God for humankind. In the New Testament, it refers to the covenant love of God for humans, as well as the human reciprocal love for God; … extends to the love of one’s fellow man.
  • In Ancient Greek, it often refers to a general affection or deeper sense of “true love” rather than the attraction suggested by “eros”. 

I want to write about AGAPE. I hear lots of preachers preaching AGAPE, well they’re preaching, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t AGAPE.

I want to make sense, be readable, be fair, open minds, open hearts. I write and write and write and you know what? It’s a lot of pressure and even more crap.

“Honey?” I call to Bill. He’s in the garage varnishing a piece of wood, watching the sanded mahogany transmute to a deep cherry. Man In A Box hovers in the Sunday August afternoon, winding around his head, it catches wind, liquefies in the yard.  

“Can you listen to this?” I’m cradling my aluminum cargo on my left forearm, holding it steady with my right hand.

“Okay, but you’ve got come here.” He answers. I step off the back porch, up the driveway to the open garage. I maneuver around a large splintered wooden spool wrapped with metal wire rope. When I was in college I wanted a spool coffee table. I thought it was cool in a shabby sheik kind of way. Now I envision putting chairs around them, painting them bright blue or yellow or orange and red, placing them in the back yard, throwing parties; my guests enjoy Moet & Chandon, artisan cheeses, grapes and strawberries dipped in chocolate whilst sitting around my colorful spools. Tacky Torrance Sheik. I balance my computer on the wide seat of his vintage BMW motorcycle.

“I can’t stop thinking about the news, all the judgment, how people think homosexuality can be cured. Forcible rape, legitimate rape, miscarriage as murder, rape as a form of conception.” I take a breath. Exhale. “I don’t get how these supposed religious people are so quick to judge and point fingers and control. Isn’t AGAPE about inclusion? Loving everyone including people who are different than you? I want to write about this, it’s important.”

“Don’t get so upset about it, those guys are idiots.” He seems calm about the whole thing, which sort of bugs me.

“You’re calm about this because you’re a man?” I ask.

He looks up from what he’s doing and flashes me one of those faces. Really?

“Let me read this to you.”

As I read I listen to my voice drone on. “… Do you think he really loves? Really is an AGAPE? Or is he a guppy? Maybe he’s one of those …” I’ve been reading James Tate. He’s surreal and funny and serious and sad and emotional and paints short colorful, imaginative, visual poems. I want to do that. “…Or that I murdered four babies by jumping into the cold ocean.” I stop reading. I look up from my computer.

“This sucks, huh?” The piece is angry, not funny or witty or well written, just angry. I’ve been trying way too hard to tell my story. I know my story is boring Jack Grapes teaches me that in class, “What should you have bronzed on top of your computer?” he sings. “My story is boring” our class harmonizes. *

“Sounds angry. Make it more surreal.” Bill tells me. “Put it aside and come back to it.” He always says that.

I pick up my computer and sit down on the spool. I want to say something, but there are no words. I feel like I’m trying to write a term paper. I have to let go and not try to write about something, but just write. In college, when I’d hit a wall with a term paper, I’d wander the dorm halls looking for distractions.

One night I drifted into Amy’s room looking for diversion. Amy was ethereal, her pale skin glowed and her thick wavy blonde hair framed her chiseled features. She seemed angelic. She needed metal forearm crutches to walk. You could hear her coming, her rhythmic robotic beat entering a room before she did. She wore black braces on her legs.

That night she told me her story. There’d been a car accident. It was Sophomore year after a dance. They were drinking. She was the only survivor. The doctors weren’t hopeful. They told her she’d never walk again. She was sad, guilty, knew she was being punished. She knew she was bad. “I didn’t deserve to live.” She said. One night a voice spoke to her from above her bed. You will walk again my child.

“I knew it was God and that night I was born again. I became a true Christian. I was born Jewish, but born again Christian. No one can see the kingdom of God without being born again. You will never see his kingdom and when we Rapture, you will be left behind as the world burns. It will be a fiery death.”

At 18, I was still a virgin, still sheltered, still innocent, a good Jewish girl, and her story freaked me out.

I get where she was coming from. Amy, innocent lamb, touched by a miracle, flung head first into the deep end of myth. I believed her miracle, she was walking and doctors said she wouldn’t.

I don’t think Amy understood her role as messenger of this message, ‘If you’re not with us you’re against us’, the bigger agenda. She was just trying to save me, like God saved her.

Let go.  Let go of trying. Let go of my story. Paint a picture.  Maybe one day, I’ll soften hearts.  For now, let go.

I stood up and walked over to Bill. I kissed him on the cheek. He smelled like ocean, salt, cut grass, sawdust and summer love.


* Over the last 30 years, Jack Grapes has taught 1000’s of poets and writers Method Writing here in Los Angeles.

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  1. danny martin says:

    read “Socrates in Love; philosophy for the passionate heart,” by Christopher phillips