The Love's the Thing

Red helium heart-shaped balloons float into a blue sky

I was a foster parent long before I was a mom, and an inside look at families "in the system" reveals pretty quickly that love and parenthood are two different qualities, and the relationship between them is neither straightforward nor guaranteed.

Of course the same is true of love and friendship, love and kinship, love and partnership. An intimate relationship is no guarantee of love, and love is no guarantee of simplicity or ease or unadulterated pleasure. No seasonal flurry of red and pink hearts changes that.

But the inevitable heartbreak and challenge of opening ourselves to love notwithstanding, love is the thing: The Thing all the poets and lyricists and artists of the ages must capture and express, and The Thing none of them can agree upon. The thing for which we courageously lay ourselves bare, and the thing against which we erect barriers of cunning devising.

And Love, according to our Universalist forebears, is the Thing that holds us. In all our holy human perfection and all our wretched human brokenness—which cannot be separated, one from the other, in any of us—Love holds us.

That makes each of us a Valentine. Love’s Valentine. God’s Valentine. Mystery’s Valentine. If you listen very carefully you’ll hear a voice from both within and beyond saying something sweeter and more miraculous than “Will you be my Valentine?” It is even now whispering, singing, calling, declaring, as it has from the day you were born and will to the day you die, “You are my Valentine!”

The Love’s the Thing.