You are my Valentine.
Right now, I’m trying to imagine not only you, who probably know me, though possibly not well, but also total strangers reading those words.
Now I’m stretching that farther… I’m imagining the people I actively dislike reading those words. (If you thought I was nicer than that – so sorry).
Now I’m taking this even farther… I’m imagining the people for whom it is a genuine inner struggle for me to wish them well at all. These are the people who have done – some are actively doing – things that have brought genuine pain, inflicted damage, even done catastrophic harm. I include people who have wounded the ones I love, the country I whose best values I give my allegiance to in, the planet that is our only home.
Can I do it?
I’m sure many of you have practiced a Buddhist Metta “Loving Kindness” meditation, in which you send out loving care and “May you be well” good wishes out to ever-expanding circles. The usual practice is to begin with oneself, expand to those it’s easiest to love, then extend care and good wishes to strangers, and finally to extend that to those who appear in your life as enemies. It’s powerful.
If you take this practice seriously, it’s very challenging to focus on people you experience as causing harm, and let your heart open to wishing them well. It seems to me this year that Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to practice that.
It’s also another problematic holiday.
For some, Valentine’s Day is a reminder of loneliness. I’ve been there. For others, it’s a reminder of a worse kind of loneliness – that of being in a primary relationship filled with heartache. This is worst if you are still stuck there, and are still expected (and maybe expecting yourself) to somehow muster a “Happy Valentine’s Day” expression of some kind. I’ve been there too.
Valentine’s Day can also be a “We Two Against the World” hiding place. I don’t want to understate the blessing and the precious sanctuary of having love in your life. Deep, primary relationships can be the crucible in which our best selves are formed. But they can also be a place we go for distraction and avoidance of the world.
As a Unitarian Universalist, I have long been committed to opening my heart to the Oneness of Being, which truly does include us all.
More than ever, our shared destiny depends on enough people reaching across barriers of fear and the hatred it engenders, to feel this Oneness and to operate from there. I know that whatever choices people are making, they always operating from the combination of their temperament, the worldview they have at the time, an as much inner psychospiritual development as they have thus far attained.
People are acting with integrity in relation to their version of the truth.
I want to use Valentine’s Day to remember that, and to once again open my heart. I want to open it to the longing, yearning child within every person who crosses my mind (not only including me but starting with myself).
Openheartedness doesn’t in any way mean I won’t act to maintain clear, strong and healthy boundaries. I will. But I will aim to do it with respect, and, from my heart, as an act of love.
There is a Wholeness that call us to give our hearts to it, and that responds by holding us in return. I want to live inside that Wholeness, as a felt experience of being alive.
That is why, this year, you – you are my Valentine.
With You on the Path,