Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine Message from My Heart

I hope you are having a nice Valentine's Day. If you made heart-shaped waffles for your sweet children's breakfast, or posted an Instagram of the fabulous roses from your man, or enjoyed a special romantic getaway date, then I am genuinely happy for you and your beautiful celebrations of love.

But my message today is not for you.

Maybe you feel a bit bittersweet - your husband is out of the country so your declarations of love must be made via Skype, or your sweet treats come not from a boyfriend but merely a boy friend. Perhaps your middle school adolescents sneer at your cutely decorated Tootsie Pops, or your mother complained because she didn't get your card yet. Maybe you have lost a loved one this year and your heart is filled with grief. I'm completely sympathetic and offer the rest of my thoughts with sensitivity to your emotions.

But my message today is not really for you, either.

My mind has been full of half-formed thoughts today, and as I was preparing dinner just now, they all came together in a rush. As is our family tradition, we are having a heart-shaped meatloaf and I always take a photograph of the finished product. But since crispy, crusty post-oven meatloaf pans are not always pretty as a picture, I spontaneously decided to take the photograph this year before the meat is baked. As I was looking through the lens of the camera at the uncooked sculpted creation, the phrase "raw heart" jumped into my mind. 

Yes, those are exactly the words I have been looking for all day long. Some of us are enjoying a beautiful, affirming day of love today. Others may feel a bit let down, yet still can see a rich vein of love running through their lives. 

But this world is full of people who are facing the fact today that their hearts are raw. 

This message is for them. 

My heart goes out to the people who have no significant other, and feel utterly alone.
The spouses whose relationship is marred by emotional or physical abuse. 
The caretakers who are caring for loved ones too sick or broken to understand or appreciate their care. 
The parents who cannot or will not care for their children.
The women whose husband secretly gave flowers to another woman today.
The breadwinners who are desperately unemployed or in financial crisis.
The people who are newly separated or divorced this Valentine's Day.
The alcoholics and addicts whose abuse harms not only themselves but everyone who cares about them.
The devoted friends who are unfairly enduring betrayals, gossip, the silent treatment or backstabbing.
The people who feel unloved or unloveable. 
Those who are carrying unbearable secrets or other burdens of shame and regret.

The people whose hearts are raw with pain and sorrow and sadness that is unrelieved by human love. 

I wonder if our Valentine's Day preoccupations with red flowers, Cupid's arrows, and heart-shaped food is a valid gauge of our deepest feelings.

Maybe our ability to show love to the raw-hearted people of this world, and to love ourselves when we find ourselves among them, is the true measure of our hearts.

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More sweet whisperings of Valentine love:

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