Valentine’s Day is such a trigger for so many people. Reflecting on my own love/hate relationship with the day I admit that I’ve been a willing partner in the hype of this so-called holiday. My Dad was a very romantic guy and always made the day special for my mother. I was abundantly aware of how in love they were and, while it made for a loving household (not without ups and downs certainly…sometimes more downs than ups) it sparked a young girl’s imagination about how love would show up in her life. I was also “Daddy’s Little Girl” (that song still brings me to tears) so he also recognized me on Valentine’s Day with a card and a little box of chocolates. Of course it thrilled me to no end because I absolutely worshiped my very handsome and dashing Daddy and basked in the glow of his love for me. But we all know that expression, “It’s all fun and games until someone…..fill in the blank…..” Well it was all fun and games until my lofty dreams and expectations about how Valentine’s Day – how Love – should be were dashed many times as my adult life unfolded. Like so many of us, we learn our reality lessons the hard way, often because that’s the ONLY way we will learn them.
And I did learn many lessons about romantic love. A lot of them were hard and painful. The childish illusions were replaced by disappointment, remorse, resentment, anger, bitter tears, and a host of other things I’m sure many of you can relate to. The pendulum swung in the opposite direction for many years as I traveled the road of the divorcee trying to find a way back into single life, failing miserably as I kissed many of the frogs that crossed my path. In fact there came a time when I was pretty sure that frogs were all that was available and eventually decided that Love was not a game I wanted to play. I had a great life, a great career, a delightful daughter, a loving family and fabulous friends – and that was quite enough for me. It was then that things shifted and lo and behold…well…I found a Love like no other (or shall I say IT found me).
What I have learned finally about Love is that we need to love ourselves, period. Now this is not a new notion. Many people, especially women, have been writing and speaking about the notion of self-love, self-esteem, self-worth for years. The wisdom has been shared in so many ways. I read book after book, listened to tapes (remember them?), went to classes, watched programs, meditated on it, affirmed it daily. And somewhere in the process of peeling layer after layer of ill-conceived ideas about my own self-worth (or lack of it) the lights started to go on. And guess what…illumination is (at least for me) a slow process. Some days the lights are burning bright…some days not. Some days I see a woman in the mirror I admire and love from the depths of my soul, and some days I don’t like what I see in the mirror at all. It’s progress because the lights never go out anymore. I am always emanating my light regardless of what kind of day I’m having. That much I know for certain. I love that light…and since that light is coming from me, I love me too.
And then there’s the heart. We were all born with this amazing muscle that runs our body machine every moment of every day. I am constantly awed by the way it emits just the right amount of electricity, pumps just the right amount of blood through the many little tiny vessels running throughout our bodies, making that beautiful sound it makes…all day long. All day it keeps doing the job of keeping the rest of our physical being nourished, carrying the vital nutrients we need through our blood to the far reaches of every system. Sometimes my mind has trouble conceptualizing that I am alive because this muscle is expanding and contracting within my chest second by second. It’s truly a mind-blower.
Something else I know is that within this vital organ is the capacity for Love that is beyond our understanding. Ancient teachings identify this place in the body as the center for the emotion of Love. And Love is more than having a boyfriend, girlfriend, lover, or spouse. It’s more than flowers and chocolates. It’s more than a candle-lit dinner and love-making. Love is not little red hearts and a bunch of roses. Yes those things are nice, wonderful even. And they are not Love. Love cannot possibly fit into such a tiny container. It’s just too big for that. In fact it’s so big that to try to define it is impossible. The concept of Love makes me feel the same awe that I feel when I think about the beating heart, and I all I can do is stop and allow it to wash over me.
I spoke earlier of my Dad. He was, and is, a heroic energy in my life. He had a heart that emitted more love than any heart I’ve ever known. And the day his stopped was one I will not ever forget. I wasn’t sure mine would or could continue to beat in the presence of the grief of losing him. And yet my heart did continue beating and within it is the essence of the Love my father emanated toward me and everyone who knew him. It’s a living thing. It’s real. As real as the muscle that beats this very moment in my chest and yours.
So the symbol of the heart and the work it does is really what I like to think Valentine’s Day should be about. Valentine’s Day is about affirming life, affirming the gift of being alive and of having that remarkable muscle doing its work moment by moment. It’s about basking in the glow of the emanation of Lovelight that each of us is sharing with every living thing. And it’s about recognizing the Divinity that we are and the gift of life we’ve been given. And as I tune into the rhythm of my own heartbeat I tune into yours and share this magnificent wisdom with you:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.
~ Franne 2-5-16