As we enter year two of the pandemic, I and many others are dealing with loss and some degree of broken-heartedness. A trip through my local drugstore reminds me that Valentine’s Day is nigh, and I find myself pondering, are there Valentine’s for the broken hearts among us?
Symbols and metaphors of love are all around us at this time of the year, especially romantic love. The representation of love in hearts and chocolates always feels a bit over the top and antithetical to the ways some of us show and express love in our lives and our relationships. How do you show love for the glory that surrounds you? For me, cooking is an expression of love for my family. A walk in the woods is an expression of my love for the planet and the natural world.
But what if you just aren’t feeling the love? Valentine’s Day comes in the middle of a dark, snowy winter, when many are already struggling with grief and isolation and eagerly looking for signs of spring. As I meditate on the losses I’ve experienced, they aren’t the kind the Hallmark aisles recognize. Is there a card for “I’m sorry you miss your long-distance friends and family!” Or, “Blessings to you as you recover from the loss of a colleague!” Or, “Congratulations on the loss of your job!” But these events are meaningful and hard and they change who we are. As I struggle with the losses I’ve experienced over the past couple of years, I find myself asking “is love enough” to heal the cracks in my heart and soul?
My personal theology has always rested on an interconnected “three legged stool” of love, compassion and justice. One alone cannot stand. Love alone won’t change the world and love alone can’t heal the brokenness and the broken hearts that are part of living in a disconnected time where our health, our jobs, our rights and the rights of those we love are so precarious. But doesn’t it feel good to know we are loved, even in the broken moments?
Over the past few months I’ve been attending online worship at the church where I grew up. The minister ends each meditation with the words “I love you.” In that moment It feels so authentic. It feels like a Valentine’s Day arrow straight to my broken heart. It is a balm to the despair that this time has visited upon us as individuals, as a deeply divided nation and as an out of balance world. Loving one another is something that faith communities are built for – love is our currency and this is a great time to think about whether and how we are sharing it. How are you practicing love, how are you sending Valentine’s to those in your congregation who need them, perhaps desperately?
WE are the Valentine’s. By our living, loving, and committing to building true beloved community with generous hearts, we are saving lives and helping to heal broken hearts. Just saying “I love you” out loud may fall on the ears of someone who needed to hear it. And chocolate. Chocolate is good too <3