Blood. Blood is always present when love reaches its climax, its fullest expression: husband and wife becoming one, mother laboring to give birth, Christ on the cross. And yet not everyone is called to bleed in these ways—but bleed everyone must, in spirit, if love is to be known.
A paradox it may be, but we bleed to preserve the life within us, like a serpent exposing its body to preserve its head. A man and a woman not yet married but desiring to be one must say not yet to preserve the life of their love. For to give themselves to each other too soon would wound, if not kill, their love—love that can only be lived fully and freely within marriage. Yes, it is a sacrifice, it hurts, together they will bleed with longing—but their blood will bear fruit. Every temptation surrendered to God is an opportunity for Him to infuse grace into their relationship. Not only does this strengthen them in the moment, but it also strengthens their future together, if God calls them into marriage. How sweet and joyful and pure will their union be for having waited.
To love anyone is to bleed—whether a child, a sibling, a friend—for when the other is wounded, you feel their wound too. Yes, their happiness becomes your happiness, but so too does their pain. But not to love at all—this would hurt far more. We were created to love and be loved. We cannot live without love.
In the end, everyone must bleed—whether for love or for not. We can suffer with Christ, or we can suffer without Him. With Him, there is fruit, there is the rainbow after the storm, there is resurrection. Every drop spilled is worth it.
Without Him, we bleed our life out but are not renewed. There is no fruit—none but depression, disillusionment, the gnawing sense that there must be more. Perhaps there is fleeting pleasure for the man and woman who do not wait, but there is no joy. Their relationship is not strengthened but weakened. All, however, is not lost—they can be renewed if they surrender their wounded love to God. But only if they surrender.
Why does the world choose to bleed fruitlessly? Because it does not realize it is bleeding. How, then, do we show the world the life it could (should) know? Simply, we must learn to bleed with it. Yes, as Michael D. O’Brien wrote in his novel Island of the World:
Love is the soul of the world, though its body bleeds, and we must learn to bleed with it.
Only by suffering with the world will it realize that not all spilled blood leads to death.