Ove on Love
The novel, A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman, is a book about a curmudgeon, and it’s a book about love. During the last third of the story, I was totally unsuccessful in holding back my tears.
Love, implicit throughout the novel, is explicitly referenced in only a handful of passages. Here are two.
“Loving someone is like moving into a house. At first you fall in love with all the new things, amazed every morning that all this belongs to you, as if fearing that someone would suddenly come rushing in through the door to explain that a terrible mistake had been made, you weren’t actually supposed to live in a wonderful place like this. Then over the years the walls become weathered, the wood splinters here and there, and you start to love that house not so much because of all its perfections, but rather for its imperfections. You get to know all the nooks and crannies. How to avoid getting the key caught in the lock when it’s cold outside. Which of the floorboards flex slightly when one steps on them or exactly how to open the wardrobe doors without them creaking. These are the little secrets that make it your home.” (pp. 305-6)
“Love is a strange thing. It takes you by surprise.” (p. 326)
Human love is indeed mysterious and tricky to navigate. We are baffled and awed. We are ecstatic and woeful. I think God must have a sense of humor – inviting us, in this clever way, to participate in the expansion of loving universe, while housing us in human structures ideally suited to profound misunderstanding of each other.
Our primary love relationships are often our most primitive relationships – and our most important teachers. Awkward, we fumble and stumble, moving forward and backward, knowing and being known. Eventually/hopefully, we come to appreciate the unique beauty of our individual houses, along with the beauty of the relational dwelling – and, perhaps even, the divine indwelling - we share.