Love is a word thrown willy-nilly all over the place in the English language. We can apply it to our children, significant others, and friends and family, just as we can use it to express feelings about shoes, chocolate, giraffes, days off, crossword puzzles, or that awesome movie you can’t remember the title of. In fact, “love” is used so often, the word can lack a feeling of depth. And yet, love is the strongest, most complex and profound of human emotions.
Love brings hope, salvation, and healing. Love looks deep, asks hard questions, and faces opposition. Love is a call to arms, giving voice to what we stand for; it is a whisper from the shadows reminding us to persevere; it is an echo from the past, so the future can travel a better course.
Why is love all of these things? Because it is backed by empathy, compassion, and humanity. It allows for imperfections and do-overs. People make mistakes; love offers the chance of redemption.
We can see it in action every day. The small interactions of a parent and child, the look that passes between soulmates, the courtesy shown to a stranger. But it is more, as well: Voices that blend together, demanding freedom and rights for all. Standing for those who cannot stand on their own. Recognizing that what affects someone else actually affects us all, because we are all here together on this planet.
Valentine's Day is family celebration in our home. The children (along with Mom and Dad) slip handmade cards under each other's breakfast plates, notes saying why they love each other or what they enjoy about someone. We are lucky enough to have a Valentine fairy who spreads magic with surprise treats and small gifts at all of our place settings. It's not a day reserved just for me and my husband. These children stem from our love; they are an embodiment of it. I look at our family unit and imagine it as a link to the larger world. If our kids can grow up knowing that love is important, and that sharing it with others is empowering, then they can be part of the positive outreach of the future-- the adults who are willing to lend a hand, take a chance, and give of themselves.
On this day of love—one that tends to focus on the sweetheart aspect of love, the Hallmark version of the 4-letter word—aim deeper and wider. Recognize the strength and power within you, the ability to give to others this awesome gift, this ultimate weapon, that can unite us all.