Sonny, true love is the greatest thing in the world — except for a nice MLT — mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. They’re so perky, I love that. (Miracle Max, The Princess Bride)
Grandpa: [voiceover] That day, she was amazed to discover that when he was saying “As you wish,” what he meant was, “I love you.” And even more amazing was the day she realized she truly loved him back.
Buttercup: Farm boy… fetch me that pitcher.
Westley: As you wish.
At the beginning of The Princess Bride, Buttercup commands the farm boy, Westley, to do several menial tasks – polish her horse’s saddle, fill buckets with water, fetch a pitcher. Each time, he responds, “As you wish.” In time, Buttercup realizes that “As you wish” is Westley’s way of saying “I love you.” This discovery, of course, leads to a sunset kiss, a leave-taking to seek fortune across the sea, a supposed death, and (eventually) a harrowing reunion, a second separation, another supposed death, a rescue, and (finally) an escape together from the homicidal schemes of the evil prince.
“As you wish,” says Westley before doing Buttercup’s bidding. Too remove any mystery from where this is going, let me put it bluntly: his actions display his love. He serves Buttercup, and the love that prompts this service stirs in her, as well, though the words “I love you” are never uttered. You may be tempted to say that action is needed to prove that a spoken “I love you” is real. But the film argues for the opposite. Active service is a spontaneous symptom of love, and one that often removes the necessity of speaking the words aloud.
Loving and serving – we really mustn’t separate the two. Love expresses itself not in poetic protestations, but in holding the beloved’s hair back when she’s bent over the toilet with stomach flu. Love waits all night in the hospital room, visits the prisoner, builds affordable housing, donates mac & cheese. Love gets its uniform dirty.
God has given gifts to each of us so that we might enrich the lives of those around us. The ability to love is one such gift. The desire to serve is another. Paired with these gifts are those sets of talents unique to each one of us. When we combine our unique giftedness into that sacred body of which Christ is the head, there are no limits to what God can accomplish through us.
Dear God, because you love me you give me the ability to love. Help me turn my love into the desire to serve others in your name; through Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.
I leave this moment with you, God, knowing that yours is the truest love in the world and that not even death can stop true love.