Views on Valentines 

When we lived in Massachusetts, February was definitely not my favorite month. Even in teasingly mild winters, February tended to be cold, dark and snowy, without the anticipation that winter is about to end. Indeed, it was after a particularly testing February that we resolved to take early retirement and a move to warmer climes. I grant you February is mercifully short, yet it also includes the bizarre Valentine’s Day holiday. “Killjoy!” I hear you mutter and I visualize you shaking your weary head. No matter that I’ve lived this side of the Atlantic for decades, I am still out of my cultural depth when it comes to Valentine’s Day.  Why am I obliged to reserve one particular day a year to let the people I love know that I care?  And why express my affections in such an odd way – purchasing absurd quantities of poor quality chocolate, overpriced, out-o-season flowers, and festooning my home with glossy, anatomically incorrect hearts, and naked, (inevitably white), overweight, babies sprouting frail appendages, gazing with blank adult faces framed inevitably by ringlets and lacking, not only genitalia but also, apparently, circulation. How can this gross charade relay my most deeply cherished emotion?

In common with many (though not all) I would guess, I hold the dartboard model of love, caring, and profound affection. Close family cluster in the bull’s eye, surrounded by those friends who feel as precious as family.  As the rings radiate away from the central zone, they progressively represent all the other friends, communities, acquaintances, people who have and do influence me and enrich my life. Further outwards are people I haven’t met, people whose homelands I have never visited. These outermost rings cause me to pause. Am I being honest?  Do I really care, or is it sophistry?  Would I give up my chance in line for the vaccine for someone in Malawi?  Trinidad?  Papua New Guinea? 

And where else do I respond with “love”?  That overused word that seems to indicate a motley array:- ice-cream, reality TV, hot sauce, lipstick, deafening music, KFC, Zoom, craft beer – you get the picture.

I’m sure that Chris would have little hesitation in mentioning that he loves music, a sense of humor, and the reciprocal gifts of teaching and learning.

For my part, I thought to make a list, headed by the ocean and extending through mountains, trees (with an especial nod to monkey puzzles and live oaks – see my last blog post), rivers, lakes, most animals, flowers … until I realized that I love the natural world. The ocean has a special draw, and it is no difficulty for me to understand that it obeys a magnetic pull.  I love the vastness of the sea, its moods, its movement, and its music. I love that it is home to another world of wondrous creatures.  I love that it is ever changing. And this leads me to another aspect of love, the aspect Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins called, “Pied Beauty” in his poem of the same name..

”Glory to God, – for dappled things” he says, and goes on to contrast the variety and diversity of life with the constancy of his God.

Although my appreciation for color is compromised by my low vision, I love that we do not live in a matte world.  As sun and breeze play on leaves, wheat, waves, feathers, wing-casings, rocks, fur and a multitude of faces, new beauties are exposed.

I vote to love life and, perhaps, to embrace the fertility frolic of Valentine’s Day next year, (after all I have eleven months to change my mind).

Black Lives Matter Girl sitting in the sea
Black Lives Matter Girl sitting in the sea

End Notes

Reading

Cry the Beloved Country Alan Paton

Listening

It is Enough R DeAndre Johnson

Stop in the Name of Love The Supremes
In memory of Mary Wilson

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