My wife decided to play a Valentine's Day trick on my son Luke. At 4 years old and really smelling his oats, he is in full bore Oedipus complex. He’s been quick to tell me with no minced words that all things great and good come from his Mother, and Daddies only have “rules.” My wife and I were upstairs preparing gifts as my children sat at the bottom of the stairs like birds in a nest awaiting worms. I approached with her following and pulled a fluffy Pillow Pet from behind my back and giving it to our 5-year-old daughter Grace. My wife, hands behind her back and the usual sweet smile on her face, approached a now filled with anticipation Luke, and presented a pink heart sticker to him. He stood frozen, gazing at the piece of paper while fighting to hold on to his smile. With a small still voice he chirps out a heart melting “thank you Mommy.” The trick had backfired! So enamored is he that even a piece of paper from her is treasured. My wife swooned and fell to her knees with his Pillow Pet in hand. Sheesh! That certainly didn’t make me more at ease about his desire to have her alone to himself. I am a small role player in their love story. Love humbles.
A child’s approached to Valentine’s Day is simply practice for the adult experience. Children are like candy addicts waiting to get a shot from Cupid’s sugar laced arrow. A drug induced frenzy follows making parents wonder why sugar isn’t on the FDA banned substance list. As for adults, there are times it seems the sweet somethings of love should be gifted only to those inoculated with an antidote. For us, love is healing, medicine, snake oil, and poison. If we are lucky, it is an armor encouraging and protecting life.
A Valentine Love
The heart-shaped valentine represents the iconic source of our passion - the blood red heart - inflamed and fluttering at the stimulus of a long lost memories - now restimulated by hints of warm days. Like a lover, a single February 14th stands alone in a cold dark winter. Valentine’s Day and all its temptations delivers communion from chocolate heart candies transfixed with liquid essence - spilling itself out into our mouths like a blood sacrifice. The love of the valentine is not unlike the vampire’s love of his minion. We love to excess, and often to death.
Some of us know Sixo’s type of love from author Tony Morrison’s 30-Mile Woman, a woman so enticing he walks 30 miles to see. You might say that his is a Need Based Love. She “fixes” him. He desires her so badly he will walk rain or shine. He’ll stand on a dusty road praying she will appear just once for his gaze. Had he been in today’s time, he’d replay his answering machine over and over, just to hear her ear candy voice. This is how we often seek and serve love on the human platter. We base this idea of love on its ability to give us some physical sensory experience - good, or bad.
Cupid must be the executive producer of today’s reality TV loves like “Real Housewives” who aren’t married, “Cheaters,” “A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila,” and “Date’s In the Dark.” Cheaters, tequila, shooting, darkness. Cupid is certainly drunk. Cartoonish as he is, he aims his arrows for our heart and hits us in our rear, the source of turmoil and trouble of kardashinian proportions.
A Giving and Creative Love
We would be wise to look to St. Augustine, an infamous North African Saint. One of our African fathers. St. Augustine told the world, “the purpose of literary expression, is to promote charitable love, that God may be enjoyed.” Augustine said that the spirit of the biblical scripture is that “it teaches nothing but except charity and condemns nothing but cupidity.”
Love has its great purposes. A young man having met his future wife, will suddenly begin to plan and prepare for industry for the good of his future family, even if he should die without tasting the benefits. The Genesis admonishment to “Be fruitful and multiply” has lead us to a human race sustaining concept of the family nucleus. Like it, nature also has its examples. Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree presents a boy who takes from a sheltering tree until it is only a stump. We are presented a garden of roses, that though we approach to pick and shear to its demise, emits sweet smells to us anyway. Water cools our feet while we pollute it carelessly. Such are God’s examples of love for us. Forgiving and unconditional, yet with consequences.
Spring brings her examples. Janie’s experience from Zora Neal Hurston’s book Their Eyes Were Watching God sounds like love: “She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation. Then Janie felt a pain remorseless sweet that left her limp and languid. (2.13-14).” Ah-hemm!
Yet, we are wise to love mindfully. The Spanish Christian poet Calderon, in one of his dramas, describes a good but, lonely woman, who while still a non-believer in God, swears she will never love until she finds someone who has died to prove his love for her. She hears of Christ, and her heart is won. Many a husband have met such a women.
May all our days be filled with love!