I have loved, and been married to, a wonderful woman, Pat, for thirty-one years. Together, we have discovered the exquisite treasures and pleasures of marital love to be precious beyond measure.
True love is almost beyond description. And yet last night while reading, I came upon, from an unexpected source, a meditation about love that resonated with me deeply. I would like to share it with you. But first, here’s a little background.
Anwar el-Sadat, formerly President of Egypt before he was assassinated in 1981, spent most of the 1940s in a stinking jail in his home country. In spite of the tribulations that he endured there, Mr. Sadat was destined to soon become vice President of Egypt, following the 1952 coup that evicted King Farouk.
That coup d’etat was enforced by a group of army officers who were led by Gamal Abdel Nasser, a charismatic leader who would emerge as the first President, and under whom Anwar el-Sadat would serve as vice President, before himself becoming President in 1970. Three years before his 1981 assassination, President Sadat wrote a reflective autobiography, later translated and published in the USA by Harper & Row. This is the book I was reading last night when I encountered the author’s insight on love.
Through most of the 1940s, while his compatriot, General Nasser, was preparing for revolution, Anwar was stuck in jail on sedition charges. That was unfortunate, of course, for Mr. Sadat, and a burden difficult to bear. But he was a great man with a constructive attitude, and managed to make the best of a terrible situation.
On page 86 of In Search of Identity, he shares this meditation that came during that last year of his prison experience:
“…To see someone smile, to feel that another man’s heart beat for joy, was to me a source of immeasurable happiness. I identified with people’s joys. Such despicable emotions as hate and vengeance were banished as the faith that ‘right’ ultimately triumphs came to be ineradicably implanted in my conciousness. I came to feel more deeply than ever the beauty of love: to me it was that invisible bond which united people in my village both at work and out of work (as I had realized in my childhood). Throughout my life my mother nourished that emotion in me. She had, God rest her soul, inexhaustible resources of love; by nature she was a loving, love-inspiring woman.”
( editorial note: Those last two sentences are a perfect description of my own wife, Pat, who has always been a perfect mother to our now-grown children.)
Anwar Sadat continues his meditation on love:
“What I suffered most in Cell 54 was perhaps the lack of a love relationship. For a man’s life to be complete, he must have a female partner to whom he is bound in mutual love. This is indeed the greatest blessing. When a man’s heart heart is animated by love, he is naturally impelled to accomplish his vocation. Without love, a man may grow old indeed and yet feel he hasn’t live at all; he would feel he has missed a very important thing–that, however great his achievement, he has really achieved nothing.”
This is Sadat’s insight to love that resonated so deeply with me, and so I share it with you, in hopes that we will together benefit from his wise counsel.
Anwar el-Sadat, a peacemaker among men, was assassinated in 1981. He was, perhaps, too good for this world, somewhat like Jesus Christ, who saved me from myself in 1978. Yes, I am Christian, but I have admiration for this former President of Egypt who happens to have been a Muslim. For such is the stuff that makes a little peace now and then among the men and women of this perilous earth.