In the dark comedy Harold and Maude, twenty-something, despairing, death-obsessed Harold loves life-affirming Maude, who is getting ready to celebrate her 80th birthday. Toward the end of the movie (spoiler alert), Harold arranges a surprise party for her. He decorates a room with all her favorite flowers and gives her a present and says he wants her to be happy. She tells him she is happy, and then shares with him that she won’t live much longer.
Harold is devastated by this news. He bursts into tears and begs her not to go. “Don’t die, Maude!” he cries, “I love you. I love you!” At which point Maude (played by the incomparable Ruth Gordon) smiles in a way that lights up her whole face. She gasps, reaches out to touch his cheek, and says, “Oh Harold, that’s wonderful! Go. Love some more.”
Harold and Maude is fifty years old this year. I first saw it when I was in high school—a number of years after the release date (!)–and I remember it as shocking, beautiful, and transgressive. Now, as an adult with very real concerns about the mental health of our young people, I’m not sure that all the humor makes a comfortable shift to the present day. Still, the movie contains many “moments” and quotable scenes, and this one line has stayed with me especially.
The Gospel tells us that love, often made manifest in relationships, is not limited to any single connection between two people or within singular communities. Love is a great force and a deep well. While specific relationships or situations may inspire our ability to love more than others, once we know what it is to love we are always able to expand that experience beyond its original catalyst. It’s not always easy, but it’s always possible: we have endless opportunities to go, and love some more.