Today is St Valentine’s Day, a time we focus on love, which in popular culture usually means romantic love with its common expressions of chocolate, roses, greetings cards, intimate dinners, and anything heart-shaped. Nothing wrong with any of those things – Helen and I shared some of them with each other. But in reflecting on love more deeply, there’s so much more. Here are some aspects that others have so thoughtfully articulated.
Our UU Minister, Paul Sawyer, talked this morning about attention as the essential heart of all love. By paying attention to our beloved, to who they are, to their needs and joys and concerns, to what we can see and what is somewhat mysterious, to what is constant and what is ever-changing in them and our relationship to them – all of this, and more, connects our hearts and souls. Simply paying attention, that’s all. Simple, but not so easy, of course! Yet, with the gift of our attention, along with our caring, our compassion, our perfect imperfections, and our authentic presence, we may come to feel that for each we are home, a place that is both safe and familiar, yet also full of discovery and adventure.
Another reflection is that there is an exquisite link and dynamic balance between love and connection to others and to oneself, which writer and performer Ann Mortifee calls the “Sacred Marriage.” She writes, “The feminine principle in nature always upholds relationship, while the masculine principle upholds autonomy. The one seeks to merge while the other seeks to individuate. We can only experience true relationship when we are capable of standing alone. And we can only truly stand alone when we realize that we are forever interconnected with everything. We are a paradox of opposing urges. We are both separate from, and one with, all of creation. We must stand alone and we must stand together.”
Finally, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to recall those ancient wise words from Chapter 13 of the First Epistle of Corinthians of the Christian Bible, words I have shared at many weddings as an officiant.
“If I speak in tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love… I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love…I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body, but do not have love…I gain nothing.”
“Love in patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!