Valentine’s Day has come and gone, bringing with it lost opportunities to express love (in its many formulas) with those in our world. Of course, we all know that Valentine’s Day is for lovers. Still, there are many opportunities for the expression of love beyond the obvious romantic, and certainly, more commercial ones. How many of us consider bestowing some random act of kindness on people who surround us every day? How many opportunities are lost on Valentine’s Day and all the days that follow? Our global communities need our love, our attention, our help. Near or far, too many souls are often forgotten. Each of us have the key to change that, and that key lies in our hearts, hearts that can nourish and love without expectation of return.
Nurturing, of course, comes in as many formulas as its dear companion: love. We spend one day a year longing for a romantic Valentine, a luncheon out, a rose, an outreach from a friend (or even stranger). What pressures we put on ourselves, and when it doesn’t come … well, for many it is painful, although not a surprise. The need to feel love is part of the human condition.
Here is one of the loveliest readings I know on the formula of love, said so much better than I could ever render. It is taken from “The Power of Love” by Robert O. Johann:
“Much has been written about love. But most of the writing, as Pere Teilhard de Chardin has remarked, concerns “only the sentimental face of love, the joy and miseries it causes us.” Relatively little has been set down about love as a way of life. And the power of love, which is the power of Being itself, has been all but passed over…
“The reason why an encounter with love moves us so deeply is that, no matter how humble and fleeting the gesture that embodies it, it dramatically recalls to us our own vocations as persons. For the person is not a mere element caught up in nature’s restless process…In the person, the transcendent power and creative freedom of God Himself are unleashed in their own right. To be a person is to share in Being itself and in Being’s creative concern for all that is…The person who lives as a person…is one who has learned that to be is to love, to spend oneself for others that they may more truly be, and that in the spending one is not impoverished by evermore deeply rooted in that limitless abundance on which one draws.
“This is the secrete of love’s power over us. To be loved is to encounter Being itself, eternity in time, God’s face among the faces of men. The loving person translates for our benefit the exuberant life of God in human terms…In the one who loves us we hear God’s voice in the realm of everyday…The only thing is not to let it go unanswered.”
The good news is that we can go forward and express love, yes in its many formulas, in all the days ahead. We don’t need Hallmark to do that.