It is Valentine's Day today. One of my favorite days - not because of the secret cards or chocolates or roses or grand gestures or the pressure to prove anything about the nature of a relationship between two people ... but because it's a holiday about Love - and really, what else is more important. And with love, there comes the symbol it is associated with - the Heart.
As anyone who knows me well knows, i've been collecting hearts for years. Not intentionally at first. I would see something I loved and there would be a heart, somehow. And slowly over time they started hanging on windows and sitting in bowls and greeting me in a painting on the wall. For me, I love everything about what they stand for ... not romance or sentimentality ... it's about the rawer things - the following your heart ... being brave enough to take a risk ... listening to the whispers. The pain of what the heart wants, and the beauty. And of course ... for love, but at it's deepest and truest level.
On a holiday like today the children take candy to school and hand out cards to everyone so that no one's feelings get hurt. There are pink balloons floating outside nail spas and we think of romantic dinners and bottles of wine. So many of us have grown up with the culture of American sit-coms and Romantic-comedies ... where the guy always gets the girl and love always conquers, no matter how great or complicated the obstacles. Where love is made to look easy and straight forward. The complicated part is in finding your soul mate - and everybody has one, we are told, - and then from there it's just in the details of agreeing on a wedding date and how many chairs will have guests in them. Buying a house. Having babies. And love will last and everything will end happily ever after.
But that's just scratching at the surface of Love. Something so complicated, so deep, so ravaging, so pure. It can be up and down and inside out and feeling at peace and feeling like running and quiet and calm and torrential in it's downpour. Sometimes love drags us and almost kills us. We fight and we search and we don't always see eye to eye. Sometimes love wraps it's arms around us and we are warm and held and content beyond words.
There is love in a marriage and love as a parent, there is love as a friend, as a sister or brother or child, for one's family. There is love for ourselves, for our dreams, for the deepest whispers of our hearts. There is love for a country, a culture, a people. For the places where parts of our hearts get left behind - fragments in time. We go back to find them but they have taken root and grown into something new or floated off on the currents and we cannot take them back.
Recently i was reminded of a beautiful passage on Love written by Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet. These words have been with me a long long time.
... When love beckons you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as
the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify
you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses
your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake
them in their clinging to the earth.
.... But if in your fear you would seek only love's
peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your
nakedness and pass out of love's threshing floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall
laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but
not all of your tears ...
I love this passage because of the analogy of the threshing floor. It's really like that sometimes. We get wounded and winded and exhausted and we wonder if it's really worth it. And then we fight on and we break through, if we're lucky, and then there is the other side of the chaos and we see the light again and the waters are calm. And we think to ourselves that this stretch of ocean is beautiful beyond belief and if we had turned our boat around at the last patch of choppy waters we never would have arrived here. To the deep blue and the sun glinting. At least that's how it is for me. In so many roles.
Today, along with the hearts and chocolates and red wine ... i am sending a little whisper on the wind for your true heart's desires to be met, and for the deepness of love to be with you today.