The meaningfulness of love

In "Man's Search for Meaning" Viktor Frankl,  who was nearly exterminated in a concentration camp, tells this story:

We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road leading from the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles. Anyone with very sore feet supported himself on his neighbor's arm. Hardly a word was spoken, the icy wind did not encourage talk. Hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, the man marching next to me whispered suddenly: "If only our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don't know what is happening to us."

That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind. And as we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each man was thinking of his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife's image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.

A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set to song by so many poets, proclaimed as final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth- that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which men can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world may still know bliss, be it only for a brief moment,  in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his suffering in the right way- an honorable way- in such a position man can , through, loving contemplation of the image he carried of his beloved achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words. "The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory." (Frankl, 35-37)

How awe-filled the contemplation that love and only love will save humanity. It is because of love that sacrifice is made, forgiveness is given, and justice preserved. From the depths of Auschwitz love reached Frankl, a clear sign that regardless of your suffering Love can save you. 


"Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love." - 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT)


Frankl, Viktor. Man's Search for Meaning:An Introduction to Logotherapy. Boston: Beacon Press, 1962.