On this day of hearts, so many of us feel layered emotions. I remember the years of this day in my childhood: boxes colored in anticipation of paper valentines, a boy in the 4th grade who gave me the most beautiful handmade valentine I have ever received, tears of heartbreak, and sounds of joy. It’s interesting, the days and the memories that make us remember our heartbeat, our center, our loves.
A few months ago, I woke up on a Saturday morning with my youngest daughter’s face inches away from mine. Within minutes, she was leading me through the hallways of our house until I was told to stop at a doorway. She had clearly woken early and found paper and tape, along with her creativity. The door to our den was covered in handmade streamers, then a “surprise” sign over the fireplace, surrounded in paper streamers in bright colors. In the kitchen, a makeshift breakfast: a few pieces of toast surrounded by small chocolates and a glass of orange juice. Her face was pure joy. For a few moments, the same thoughts kept repeating…It’s not my birthday. Am I forgetting something? What did I do to deserve this morning greeting? When I asked my daughter was it was all for, her answer was simple. “I just thought you needed a surprise for no reason.”
Love is not something we deserve, friends. Love is not a special occasion. Love is something we wake up with, walk beside, and encounter every single day.
Love, which passes all understanding.
It is not found in any card, though the words we offer to one another matter so much, on any and every day.
Perhaps love is more about the stories of the jagged rock than it is the smooth, polished stone.
Perhaps love is more about seeing the person in front of you and seeing them for who they are instead of through the lens of who you want or need them to be.
Perhaps love is a second chance. Perhaps love is a wise boundary.
Perhaps love is looking in the mirror and valuing the spirit of the person you see.
My godmother taught me to love drawing hearts. I spent this morning filling up a piece of paper with various colors and sizes of hearts. I let the rounded curve at the top of the hearts be a look inward, a breath in, acknowledging myself. As I let the markers move around and down, I breathed out, thinking of those who connect with me and who have taken the time to know me well, while also considering stranger and those who have set me apart. In the point of the meeting of curves at the bottom of each heart, I simply let myself feel love and gratitude.
I hope you know love today and every day. It is already there beside you, whether or not you have a Valentine. Find paper and pen, then let the hearts lead you.