Love’s Constant Persuasion … Or … Love’s Testement: Old and New

Feb 15, 2021 at 08:00 am by Paulette Jackson

 Lover’s Souls

We are not the same

me and you
Each one, not two
And when I am me without you
I am somehow half, not whole
But when we are together
Though a different two
My heart espies immortal truth
What wonder, sages, priests and poets knew
Of mystery between lovers' souls.

~Paulette Jackson

Her name was Anne Elliot, and she is the heroine in Jane Austen’s novel, Persuasion, published posthumously in 1818. 

In this novel, which many of us may be familiar, we are presented with the details of the lives of Jane’s characters; upper-middle-class men and women living in England at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Considered Jane’s most romantic writing, its theme centers on postponed, but enduring love. Widely read and accepted, this publication was the one that brought her the satus of being considered one of the finest novelists.

For those unfamiliar with the novel, the story focuses on Anne Elliot, as the heroine. In my opinion, there are two story lines in this novel; both allowing us to have a perspective of the values to which individuals subscribe.

  1. The first story line reveals the human conflict of heart and soul, and the effort to find peaceful resolve when having to choose between two values.
  2.  The second story exposes the consideration to value only the interests of one’s self as a priority, and make one’s own life, hopes, desires and loves … the focus.

In reading the novel, or watching a movie production that stays close to the book, we see the two values revealed in individuals, as well as society.

The first value, wrestled with by Anne, is to honor the wishes of her beloved family members, in the midst of their refusal to give her their blessing to marry, for reasons that the man she loved, had little to no money, and a “sanguine temper and a fearlessness of mind.”

The second value reveals the internal conflict of the self and the decision to remain true to one’s authentic self. And for Anne, her unreproachable character was confronted with agonizing conflict; the commitment to her family and the deep of love for the man who wanted to marry her, creating an intense internal struggle; biologically, psychologically, socially and spiritually.

For most of Anne’s life, her family was recognized as one having substantial means, until her father’s spending placed the family in dire circumstances. Now, Anne suffers from being denied marriage because her father and derogate mother, require her to end the relationship to Captain Frederick Wentworth, because of his lack of financial status.

In this scenario, our take-away might allow us to see the conflict for our heroine, particularly in England’s culture and value system. As 21st century readers, we can empathize and respect Anne’s values, commitments and actions, as well as understand the influence of the cultural standards of the British class system during that time period, and those who subscribed to them.

Anne’s society was a wealthy one, until her father’s extravagant spending habits placed the family in financial jeopardy. Assistance did come, from a friend named Lady Russel, who was consulted to help the family economize. But Anne’s father was not interested in economizing, and eventually, the decision to sublet their home was the only course available to keep afloat financially.

Their home was sublet to an Admiral and Mrs. Croft nee’ Wentworth, sister of Captain Frederick Wentworth – a circumstance that would eventually bring about the reunion of Frederick and Anne.

As the story unfolds, we see each character respond according to their values, either that of subsumed consequences or revealed grace.

One of the reasons I appreciate Persuasion, is that it is a story of sacrament, a word definded by St. Augustine as, “the visible form of an invisible grace”. In the story, we can easily see the self-serving qualities of Anne’s father and surrogate mother, while maybe well intended, nonetheless, self-serving.

In contrast, we can also see other characters, Anne, Frederick Wentworth. Admiral Croft and Mrs. Croft nee’ Wentworth, honoring the unfolding of events and holding them with an invisible grace of patience, even in the midst of painful circumstances – acknowledging the conflict of heart and soul, and the willingness to wait with peaceful resolve while caught in the midst of conflicting values. We might call it living out love.

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. A day commemorated to express love for those close to us, we can also recognize the father of the day, St. Valentine of Rome. Imprisoned for ministering to Christians who were persecuted under the Roman Empire of Emperor Claudius II, who encouraged persecution, St. Valentine became known as one who ministered to Christians whose lives were in peril. As well, he ministered to his jailer’s blind daughter, restoring her sight. And as we might guess, the cost of ministering to help Christians and those considered non-Christians, was imprisonment.

In honor of St. Valentine:

~May we: Be reminded of St. Valentine who ministered to others.
~May we: Be reminded of Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth, persuaded that love is a sacrament, the visible form of invisible grace.
~May we: Love like water; be gentle and strong. Be gentle enough to follow the paths of the earth, and strong enough to rise up and reshape our world.

~Paulette Jackson lpc-mhsp

The thoughts and intentions expressed in The Conversant Counselor’s Blog are those belonging to Paulette Jackson lpc-mhsp and do not necessarily reflect those of any other professional or individual.

  1. Info for St. Valentine. Chryssides, George D. Wilkins, Margaret Z. (2014). Christians in the Twenty-First Century.