More than half a century ago, Burt Bacharach and Hal David penned words to the great song, “The Look of Love.” In a recent interaction with strangers in Luckenbach, Texas, I saw what could only be described as “a look of love.”
The opening stanza of the song states,
“The look of love
Is in your eyes
The look your smile can’t disguise
The look of love
Is saying so much more…”
As my wife and I sat at a picnic table, enjoying live country music in the famous venue arranged for social distancing, a woman came by to begin a conversation about Miniature Schnauzers; we had ours with us. As the woman and my wife chatted, a young man came up; he was the woman’s husband. Maybe it was the beer the woman had enjoyed, maybe it was the way my wife listened gently to the stranger, but the conversation moved well beyond dogs and into a special place. The woman shared that that day was the couple’s anniversary; my wife shared that we were in town for our anniversary, too. The man’s smile broadened as he listened to his wife share. When my wife asked whether the couple had children, the woman’s smile went from one of happiness to that of hiding hurt. The man’s look changed, too, to a “look of love.”
The young man stood, looking downward toward his wife who sat on a picnic table bench as she shared with a stranger the story of their family. They had a couple of kids but had lost another; the latter “anniversary” was just a couple of weeks away. The woman’s tears and tone of voice as she shared with a loving stranger were wrenching; the man’s expression as he watched his wife can only be described as a look of love.
I sat quietly, but felt a strong appreciation for, and respect of, this young utility lineman who had worked two weeks straight on helping the hurricane-hit communities in East Texas and Louisiana regain electric service. His expression, over which he had no control, said, “I love her; I wish I could make her pain go away; I’m glad she has someone to share with.” It said so much more.
I have photographed people, as vocation and avocation, for 47 years; I watch expressions and how they convey emotions and personality. On this evening, while eating BBQ sandwiches and listening to country music, I was blessed with a reminder of how love appears in expressions that arise from within instead of being painted on externally.
I saw in the young man’s expressions on his anniversary evening the feeling of the song’s last four lines, too:
“Now that I have found you
Don’t ever go
Don’t ever go
I love you so”
From others can come affirmations of that which is beautiful, joyful, genuine and loving.