This Saturday, February 14 — I trust no one needs reminding — is Valentine’s Day, the date which we typically celebrate the kind of love that is called romance or Eros. But there are at least three other kinds of love, as famously categorized by the Christian essayist C.S. Lewis:
Storge, or affection, describes the bonds we have as parents, children, siblings, and families. Philia means friendship. Agape is the unconditional, selfless love we feel toward God. Like Eros, all the names Lewis used derived from the ancient Greek.
To these, I would propose a fifth love. I don’t have a clue what it would be called in ancient Greek, but if I remember my Latin right — to give it a suitably sounding name — Amor Terrae might do. That translates into “Love of the Land.”
It is this love that unites us, despite often heated partisan differences, here in Rappahannock County. It’s a deep love and sense of appreciation for the special beauty of our undeveloped, undulating hills, rolling timelessly toward the Blue Ridge. That love is what draws — and keeps — us here.
And this love of the land, more often than not, enhances and enriches all the other kinds of love:
Storge: For children growing up here, the landscape is just like family. Philia: Friendship is deepened when enjoying the outdoors together. Eros: Holding hands while watching together, as if one, the sun slowly sinking over the Blue Ridge brings lovers just that much closer together. Agape: No matter your religion, nature’s beauty allows a glimpse of God’s wondrous creation.
Rappahannock farmers and conservationists sometimes have differences of opinions over such things as riparian buffers, but their mutual love of the land is undeniable. In the larger scheme of things, theirs is no different from a lovers’ quarrel, eventually to be put aside and then long forgotten.