On Valentine’s Day, I must speak on the subject of love. There’s no way I can talk about anything else but love on this day.
Love is my favorite subject in the whole wide universe! Loving and being loved is what gives life such rich, deep meaning.
When I speak of love, I must talk about the art of receiving love, as so many of us find it more challenging than giving love. Both receiving and giving are the two wings that allow love to take flight!
Today, I also want to remember those who have recently lost a loved one and acknowledge that receiving love is especially hard for them. I know it all too well. I have found it to be so healing to allow ourselves to receive love, even though we are still grieving from just such a painful experience.
And on a lyrical note, what is Valentine’s Day without poetry? I would like to share some poetry today that explores love, as I have found this to be a great way to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities and mysteries of love.
These are a few of my favorite traditions I would like to share on and around this special day of February 14th.
How did this wonderful day called Valentine’s Day begin?
The credit for the origins of this special day devoted to love and romance can go equally to the Roman Saint Valentinus, from the 3rd century, and Geoffrey Chaucer, the English poet and author of The Canterbury Tales during the 14th century!
It was Chaucer who pointed out in his Parlement of Foules that the birds in England come to court and choose their mates in February during the Feast of Saint Valentinus. It didn’t take long for the bird-watching European nobility to catch on and begin sending love notes to each other, using the term My Valentine, during bird mating season.
From the 14th century to this day, February 14th gives people permission to express their love to each other with little creative notes. This pent-up desire to simply say, I love you has exploded across the globe since those ancient times. Over the centuries, each culture and nationality has developed their own creative expression and traditions around this important day.
Love is about receiving and giving.
When someone close to you says, I love you, can you breathe, relax and let it in? Or do you immediately bounce their love back, the way you would in ping pong? I love you too!
Try putting your paddle down when someone expresses their love or gives you a compliment. Rather than reflexively smacking their love back over the net, try dropping into yourself and noticing if you are receiving what they’re giving you.
If someone is offering a love poem or a spontaneous overflowing of their love, the sweetest gift you can offer is stopping and letting their love land deep inside of you.
Receiving another’s love as it lands inside of us is so sweet. We tend to automatically return their complement or love just like a ping pong ball because that is the game we’ve learned.
When someone offers words of love, I stop and pay attention to what I just heard. I quietly say inside of myself love is being offered. I take a deep breath and say thank you, thank you so much for those loving words. Let me take a deep breath of what you just said.
I do all of this because I have always felt that in this life, loving and being loved is probably the most important thing we can do.
How do we get back to loving and being loved following the loss of a loved one?
Losing a loved one can be a profoundly painful and sorrowful experience. It can be a struggle to find the way back to receiving love again after intense grief.
As challenging as it usually is, learning to receive love again can be an important part of our healing process. The slow acceptance of learning to let love in can help us to feel more connected and supported by those around us.
As we gradually open, once again, to the love being offered, we can allow ourselves to be comforted and cared for by others, even in the face of loss and grief.
I have a best friend here in the building where I live. She knew the importance of allowing herself to be comforted in her time of great loss.
This close friend has helped me in so many ways. She is such a great, great woman. She is a major force in my life here in Panama. I think it was around a week ago when she got word that her brother had passed away. He had been in intensive care in Oregon, USA.
I held her hand as much as possible through that experience because I know how hard it is to let go of a loved one, especially a family member whom you are close to.
Through this friend, I’ve been feeling the presence of my loving brother, Johnny, who I lost around five years ago to cancer. He was my baby brother, three years younger than me, but he was also my best friend, protector, caretaker, and big brother in many ways.
I share these thoughts on grief and returning to love in honor of my brother John.
Johnny helped me to understand the importance of receiving his words of love many times. Several years ago, he sent me a poem by the famous mystic, Rumi, which I visit often.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within you that you have built against receiving love.”
This poem from Johnny helps to remind me that love is always available to us; we just have to open the doors and let it in.
Share a poem of love on Valentine’s Day
Poetry can help us convey our feelings of love and appreciate the love being expressed by others. By reading or declaring our feelings of love through poetry, we can give a voice to this rich and complex emotion for ourselves and for others.
We can learn a lot about love through those who express love well – the poets, the mystics, the songwriters – even the philosophers now and then.
A couple of my favorite one-line poems I would like to share are from the esteemed Dr. Martin Luther King:
Share some magical moments of love this Valentine’s Day!
One thing I hope you take away from this blog is the inspiration to live your life AND your love in a bigger, deeper, more expanded way.
How do we do that? Well, one way is to create magical moments of love during your daily life. If you have a partner and one or both of you leave home on a regular basis due to work commitments, make it a point to create special, caring moments when waking up together and arriving back home.
As much as possible, try to savor these moments with a special gesture or touch.
When waking up, reach out and touch the person next to you, so they wake up feeling loved by you. When you return to be with each other again at the end of the day, make that another moment of love – be it an extra long embrace or some nice slow kissing and looking deeply into each other’s eyes.
And finally, when you crawl into bed at night (if you’re with your partner), take that last moment before you turn off the light, close your eyes, and go to sleep to look into each other’s eyes. You can say something sweet and loving as you turn away to go to sleep.
My favorite goodnight thing to say is, I love you more than yesterday and less than tomorrow.
What a great way to wrap up the day of love, February 14th!
And with this, I say farewell for now. Have a fantastic, fantastic day filled with love.
I end this conversation, gazing your way with love….
Conversation with Caroline adaption and writing by Wordsmith – Peter D. Black