Word of the Week

I Love . . .

Today is Valentine's Day . ..  a day that I know many of my friends hate. I even saw someone recently wearing a t-shirt like the picture to the right. I totally understand. It can be a rough world out there in the commercialism that we call American holidays especially for those who don't have what our culture says is a "must have" (i.e. a happy romantic relationship).

But, though I am happily married (and I know this means that some of you will stop reading here), I need to tell you that I love Valentine's Day.  I have loved this day even in my "I'm sad to be single years."  For me it has never been about the special someone in my life. It has been a day about love, something we all know something about.

I love this day because it is a wonderful excuse to tell the beautiful people in my life how much I love them. I love the beautiful people who make up my congregation who model for me the faith calling of simply being themselves! I love the amazing people-- though the number is small-- who still keep in touch with me from college and high school who remind me who I've always been. I love the faithful saints of friends who are in my every day life-- who make every day trips to the grocery store or out to dinner a major event of laughter. I love the colleagues that I have in ministry who are all across the world who challenge me and encourage me to keep going even when I feel like quitting. 

I love this day because I am one of those people who often feels like the intentional ways I like to show my love to others on other "normal" days of the year can be too much. You know, authentic expressions of love can be intimidating for some not accustomed to receiving. So for me, Valentine's Day is perfect. It's a day all about showing and telling those in your life that you love that you do love them. So, I do a lot of it!

I'm sure some of my affection for this day comes from the fact that I grew up in a household where Valentine's was one of our most celebrated days. While in grade and high school, my mom always hid presents in our chairs at the breakfast table with Vday gifts. Neither of us were big chocolate or candy eaters (I know weird) so we always got small gifts. Usually I found a new red t-shirt to wear to school or new pj pants. We'd always be served heart-shaped toast . . . a tradition I still keep up with whoever is in my household on Vday.

Then, my Vday love started to get out of control when I made that last-minute visit to Duke Divinity School in exploration of a call to go to seminary there on Valentine's Day 2003. It was the day I met with the admissions director, Donna Claycomb and also met three folks who would become some of my closest friends in the journey of seminary ahead: Abby Thornton, Jenn Brown and Clark Williams. At the end of the day, Donna gave us all cookies on a stick in the shape of hearts as her pastoral way of saying, "Thank you for coming." She wanted to show her love to us as we were in this scary time of trying to figure out what would be next in our lives. It was on that cold Friday, Valentine's afternoon that I left Durham knowing that Duke was the seminary for me.

The next year, when Vday came around again and Abby, Jenn and I were hanging out (maybe studying?), we made cookies on a stick (thanks to directions from Donna) in thanksgiving of being friends for a year. Now, every February, I make heart-shaped cookies on a stick and continue to celebrate with these folks and new friends too. Now as a pastor, I often go visiting to shut-ins and widows on Valentine's Day-- taking cookies and saying a word to them about how glad I am to have them in my life, even on a day that might bring up memories of sadness.

Today, I am not able to keep up the shut-in visitation or the heart-shaped toast part of my Vday tradition because I'm taking a couple of days off to spend with my husband in the Midwest. I'm tagging along on his business trip because we both really wanted to be together on this day. I love him so much to suffer through some really cold weather and the piles and piles of snow on the ground 🙂 I'm of the belief that if you have something good in your life (and Kevin is one of the really goods for me), then it needs to be celebrated and celebrated big.

So, what's the point to this personal ranting "I love Valentine's Day" blog?

Maybe I can not win you over to my level of Valentines love, but I hope I can encourage you to get out there and tell someone who you love them. It doesn't have to be a spouse, a boyfriend or a partner, but  someone. No matter who we are, we all have people in our lives that we love and hopefully love us in return. What a great day to just do something for one of these folks, so there is no doubt in their minds how we feel about them! Spread the love, my friends. Spread the love. It really can be a great day.