“God Working in the World”: UIW Community Learns about C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves

February 16, 2024

When local stores begin to fill with stuffed animals, heart shaped chocolate boxes and bouquets of flowers, it is undeniable that Valentine’s Day has arrived once again. While this holiday is often one dedicated to romance, there are other forms of love worthy of celebration that exist outside of the parameters of romantic affection.

Students, faculty and other University members were invited to recognize and learn about these various forms of love at an event called, “A Valentine’s Day Date with C.S. Lewis.” Many may be familiar with Lewis’ series The Chronicles of Narnia, but he wrote about more than “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” During the Valentine’s Day event, event leaders took attendees through Lewis’s book The Four Loves, which explores four forms of love identified by him:

  1. Affection (Storge): Love based on familiarity and shared experiences.
  2. Friendship (Philia): Deep companionship, mutual respect, and shared interests.
  3. Eros: Romance or passionate love characterized by desire and attraction.
  4. Charity (Agape): Highest form of love, selfless and unconditional.

Dr. Adrienne Ambrose, associate professor of Religious Studies, and Dr. LuElla D’Amico, associate professor of English, hosted this event with the hopes of creating joy and celebrating all forms of love.

“Lewis reminds us that love isn't only romantic in nature: we can love our family, friends, and even those we work with or simply see on a regular basis in other capacitates,” remarked D’Amico. “We wanted to create a celebration where anyone could celebrate Valentine's Day, regardless of their relationship status.”

The fact that she got to put this event on with her dear friend, Dr. Ambrose, made the event even more special to her as she recognizes the love present within their friendship.

At the event, students learned about Lewis’s life, reflected on how the four loves are present within their own lives and considered how the expression of love is connected to God. Lewis as a Christian believed that the expression of love is visible evidence of God working in the world, a fitting notion considering Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday were simultaneously observed on Feb. 14 this year.

“C.S. Lewis reminds us that love can take many forms, and how we show love to others is probably our highest calling as humans,” added D’Amico.

Attendees were also given the opportunity to create Valentine’s Day cards. The room was filled with people as they cut, folded, glued and decorated cards that expressed the love they held for those present within their lives.

Sr. Eilish Ryan, CCVI, even made an appearance, donning her ashes, to bless the Valentine cards and gifts created by attendees so that they may be give joy to those who receive them.

In the end, D’Amico was ultimately touched by the outcome of the event.

“Towards the end of the event, people shared their love stories and who they had made Valentines for and why. Those moments of getting to know others in this way were special. It's rare we get to merge the intellectual life with the emotional and spiritual. C.S. Lewis provides a model of how to enact this type of wholeness of our varied identities, and how to think through our emotional and spiritual lives with the same attentiveness we give our intellectual ones.”