On the Difficulties of Writing About Love

Happy Valentines Day!

I’ve given myself the worst writing prompt ever assigned. Write about love, define it, wrestle this day back for all of us.

Can we all just admit that Hallmark stole Valentine’s Day from the Catholic Church? This was never supposed to be a day dedicated to love birds. Heck, it wasn’t even really Saint Valentine’s day originally. According to historians, the Catholics stole February 14th as a celebration day because it was already a popular pagan holiday named Lupercalia. If we can steal it back, the pagans would be delighted.

Today, driving to pick up my kid at school, and one of my best friends called me out of the blue. My heart felt achingly full talking to this woman who I love so much, have known since I was a teenager, a woman who experienced a recent health scare. It is Valentine’s Day, so my thoughts have been snagged on love all day, naturally I want to sit down and reflect on it. How can we possibly describe the threads of affection and warmth that blanket us in love? Why is it so difficult to talk to others about love?

St. Valentine’s Day’s focus on so called “courtly” love represents a very small slice of the love pie. Romantic love is like one percent of it. And this small subset of love certainly wasn’t all that St. Valentine was known for when he was alive. I mean, sure, he did get killed for conducting Christian marriages, but there were other equally amazing love-based actions he could have been noted for besides the wedding work. Let me remind you that St. Valentine famously cured a young girl of blindness. As we rebrand the holiday, this is the metaphor of love that I want to celebrate. A lot of what he did was be useful to others, so let’s celebrate the ones who help us today.

Akin to air and access to fresh water, love is a basic human need. Experiments depriving infants of comfort have shown the toxic effect of not receiving loving attention. Love provides a spiritual sustenance we require. As a nation, we need to engage in more platonic touch to calm each other down and raise each other up. Touch can save your life. St. Valentine’s act of curing a young girl and restoring her sight is an apt description of the way that love can save us from darkness.

Valentine’s Day needs to open the doors to all manifestations of love. This myopic version of love infers its merely a human thing. Pet owners know what it means to be adored in a way humans fail to afford each other. Feeling loved, truly loved by the canine family member beside me is all the evidence I’ve ever needed of the importance of being alive. To some folks, this might sound silly, but my dog is a source of so much raw and unfiltered love that my heart brims with it. Just being looked upon by loving eyes tells me that right here, right now, it is why I won the lottery of life in the first place.

Some of my friends are like me, in loving relationships. Many of my friends are not partnered. Valentines Day seems to annoy single people in a way that no other holiday does, and I want to expand the focus beyond romantic love, and get back to St. Valentine’s basics. According to my Catholic sources, the man has far more versatility in themes available to him: “St. Valentine is the Patron Saint of bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, lovers, plague, travelers, and young people.”

So, my fellow bee keepers, fainters, travelers, young people, and plague victims, let’s shower those around us with extra love today. All the single fellows, give a box a chocolates to your mom or the kind colleague you can’t really thank enough. If someone has been useful to you in your life, they’ve shown you a form of love that deserves to be celebrated. Dog and cat parents, proceed to pamper those loving fellows in the true spirit of this day!

Love is revealed in demonstrations, and today is the perfect time to tell people that you love them! Last night before she went to bed, my kid made individual Valentine’s cards for each one of her closest friends, and I cannot resist sharing one of them here. Love is the gift that insists on being given, and please radiate it today regardless of which box you click on the married versus single versus it’s complicated spectrum. This is a day for love, and I hope you have the love you deserve today and always.

Love allows us to fuel the essential spark inside of ourselves. Real love is all about helping, and it is the best culmination and manifestation of our noblest intentions with the people and living creatures who matter most to us in this world. St. Valentine’s Day should be a wake up to all of us to tell people we love them, as no one tells us how precious and rare authentic love is in life. Often it is too late when we discover that transcending connections to others is something that requires intentional maintenance to thrive.

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