This is a day to celebrate love. This morning I posted a picture on Facebook of a valentine that I received in my childhood. I love those old valentines. In grade school, we decorated boxes to put them in when our classmates brought them to school. We covered a box with paper of some kind and decorated them the way we liked. We put our name on them and anticipated what we would receive. The teacher and our mothers made sure that we had enough valentines for everyone.
Some years I would make my valentines from scratch. My mother bought red paper, white lace paper hearts and other little decorations. This was the most fun. It not only provided a creative activity for a small child, but as I created, I would think of the person for whom I was making it. If it was a girlfriend, I would really fancy it up. If it was a boy—not so much. I would make a valentine for each person that would just fit them. There was a great deal of excitement when we opened our valentines at the party to see who loved us and who wanted to be our valentine.
Later, Valentine’s Day meant flowers, chocolate and fancy dinners—also very nice and all about being in love. After many, many years of marriage, the meaning of the day has changed for me. It is larger and more than just feelings and celebration. We celebrate being together and taking care of each other in good times and bad and spreading love to others.
What does love look like? How do people know that I love them? How do I know others love me? A person could tell me but I may or may not believe it. Somehow, action needs to match the words. So, what does love do? Jesus said in John 13:34, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” Love may look like God dying on a cross, Mother Teresa caring for the dying on the streets of Calcutta, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fighting for equality. St. Augustine of Hippo said, “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”
This isn’t hard. Mother Teresa said, “Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” And also, “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” So, love looks like you-like us, taking care of our families, helping our friends, our neighbors, and working for those around us who have no one to love them.
Happy Valentine’s Day, dear ones.—Donna