“Valentine’s Day is Friday,” said my teenage daughter as we turned into the parking lot of her dance school.
I nodded in agreement and circled the lot’s perimeter so I could let her out at the entrance.
Just then her brother announced from the backseat, “I have a Valentine.”
“Who?” said his sister, her voiced cocked with unnatural interest. I could tell she was hoping he was about to reveal a crush on one of his 4th-grade classmates.
My eyes softened, a smile spread from the corners of my mouth, and some tiny measure of tension evaporated off my shoulders.
‘Great,’ you might be thinking… ‘Her kid just called her his Valentine. Good for her. What about me?’
Isn’t that the way we all think? ‘What about me?’ I do.
Now if you’re a regular reader, you know I have a Valentine in the traditional sense, my husband of almost 22 years. And I am forever grateful for him and the family we’ve made together.
You also know I write a lot on this blog about goodness, generosity, and how an ounce of faith can make it easier to see where divine light shines through the cracks of everyday life.
But what you might not know is that sometimes that’s hard for me.
It’s hard for me to see grace when I feel uninspired. When world news is bad, very bad, or devastating. When my family members suffer with long-term illnesses. When I pray daily for friends whose kids are struggling. When weeks go by in a blur of activity and every short winter day is actually a long darkness. When I fight my body’s desire to hibernate and drag myself out of bed. The promise of spring lightness seems far off.
So I do what I’m suggesting you do. I look up. I try see beyond…
I’m fairly convinced that some amorous souls were thinking along similar lines as they developed this unsophisticated holiday – Valentine’s Day – over the centuries and then, thankfully, the more winsome among us adopted it with gusto.
To keep us focused on what’s cheerful, and frankly, right.
Love writ large and small.
Because Love always wins.
Not just for star-gazing couples kissing in the moonlight. But for far-less glamorous and equally important pairs too.
Think you don’t have a Valentine? I’ll bet you’re wrong.
Got a neighbor who always smiles at you?
A colleague who wishes you good day – every darn day?
A clerk at a local store or restaurant who knows you by name and takes an extra second to ask you how you’re doing?
Is there a child in your life – any child – who likes to talk to you? Hold your hand? Play a game? Pet your dog?
And best yet – a friend or loved one who paid you a compliment that sang to your soul because it reinforced a truth you’ve always known about yourself – the substance of who you really are?
Love is always with us. It’s not always dressed up and smelling good. It’s often subtle and understated. But it’s always there.
Essentially, beautifully, Valentines are simple overtures of Love, and they are sometimes expressed by sweet hearts we’ve overlooked.
Somewhere in your life, you have a Valentine.
Ask God to make that person’s presence obvious to you. Give thanks when God does. And then rest in the knowledge that this person is simply one channel of the greater Love that is promised to you – and present to you – now and forever.