Such an interesting holiday we celebrate this week. A holiday ostensibly about love, and yet one that emphasizes loneliness and bitterness for so many, financial pressure for others, and a weight of obligation for lots more.
In Unitarian Universalism, many say that we are “standing on the side of love.” There is a whole related social justice organization by that name, yellow shirts with the slogan, even yellow clerical stoles with the heart-shaped logo. The idea is that love can motivate our justice work.
Now, not all of us stand. Some of us roll, sit, or lie down. But we can all be on the side of love. It’s not easy, but it is my goal.
And so Valentine’s Day is very special to me.
Yes, Valentine’s Day is about love in pairs, love in families, love among friends. And it is also about the justice that is love speaking in public. It is about asking myself, what would love do? How would love speak? How would love listen?
Love is not what the various industries associated with Valentine’s Day would sell us. It is not going into debt for a ring. It is not cheap, waxy chocolates in gaudy, heart-shaped boxes. It is not about proving your devotion.
Rather, for me, Valentine’s Day is about the question, “What is love?”
What is my love for those living on both sides of the southern border of the United States?
What is my love for an adolescent child made prickly and difficult by the onset of bipolar disorder?
What is my love for an alcoholic parent?
What is my love for a lover long gone who shows up one day on the doorstep, needing help?
What is my love for black and brown families who are being torn apart by violence?
What is your love?
There is no shortage of opportunities to ask ourselves what love would do, how love looks, what love feels like when we inhabit it…no shortage at all.
So this Valentine’s Day, I am taking the world as my valentine. Trying to let the day remind me that I can be on the side of love. Trying to listen to the world where it’s crying for love. Trying to listen to my own heart about the love it needs.
Because love is not merely an outward-facing thing. It is something we need, and something we are offered by the Divine every moment of our lives, waking and sleeping. And it is something that, with practice, we can offer ourselves.
Love for ourselves, love for others. Love for those we understand and those we don’t. Loving gratitude to the Source of Love Who holds us in being.
Sounds an awful lot like “love God” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” Some messages need to be heard again and again.
Blessings for you this Valentine’s Day. I love you.