A while ago I was sitting with my head on the Cobbler's shoulder and thinking what an incredible, gratuitous gift love is. God doesn't just say, "Yes, the world is a dark and scary place, but if you survive it you'll be happy in Heaven." Instead He says, "Yes, the world is a dark and scary place, but I'll give you someone to be with you in the midst of darkness."
As I continued pondering, I found myself suddenly frightened by the very fact that love is a grace. I am able to love and be loved purely because God gave me that gift--but often God's gifts last only as long as you need them. It is not necessary that I have somebody on this earth who loves me, and who satisfies my need to love someone else.
It would be far more reassuring if love weren't a choice, if it were an irrevocable law like the law of gravity. If you toss a rock, it falls to the ground because that's simply the way things work. It's the nature of rocks to be drawn to the earth.
Then a novel idea broke into my thoughts: What, after all, is the purpose of a rational soul? My reflexive response to that is usually logic, but what if it's not? What if the purpose of having a rational soul is love?
If that's the case (and I have a growing conviction that it is), then love is certainly still a gift (just as life is a gift, just as everything is a gift) but it is a gift which is as necessary to our souls as breathing is to our lungs. The law of love is as irrevocable as the law of gravity. We should be as shocked by a soul that does not love as we would be if a rock were to suddenly fly upwards in defiance of gravity.