I distinctly recall in Catholic grade school that on Valentine’s Day, we would distribute simple Valentine cards to all our classmates. Most of us would take a shoe box and decorate it with hearts and other signs of love and place our name on it. Then, on Valentine’s day, each classmate would insert a simple card into each box, some with a short note, others with just a name of the sender. Maybe we enjoyed some candy, but I don’t recall that part. I just remember the elaborate boxes and the excitement of later getting cards.
As I look back it was an interesting ritual and obviously, directed by our teachers. Valentine’s Day was used to give an expression of love for our classmates. Hey, we were kids! It wasn’t a sign of romance, that happened after grade school when the box ritual ended. I wish Valentine’s Day was more about being able to verbally express love for one another. Yes, I definitely use Valentine’s Day to express my love for my lovely bride, and a bit to my kids and grandkids, but I miss having a mechanism to express my love to everyone I know.
As a man, it can be a bit awkward to say “I love you” to anyone other than your wife, kids, grandkids or significant other. Maybe it’s that way for women. I don’t know. Interestingly, we say “peace” to each other each Sunday, but that isn’t as strong as “I love you.”, is it? You know one of the basic tenants of church is to love one another. Jesus, after his last supper, told his disciples to love another. I know we practice it, we really do. It’s evident in our actions and deeds, yet, unfortunately, all too often, love and romance are inter-connected and makes the verbal expression awkward. So maybe the most comfortable way of verbally expressing love for one another is to tell people what you love about them. I love your hair, I love your personality, I love your style, I love your sense of humor, etc. Expressing love in this manner is a great way to tell people that you do love them.
Happy Valentine’s Day. And I love each and every one of you. There I said it. I really do. Without you as part of my world, part of my life, it just wouldn’t be the same. You may not get a Valentine card from me but rest assured you are loved. Now go out and express your love to others. Do it any way that makes you comfortable, but do it.
Lord, thank you for all the love you have given to me and those around me. It’s abundantly clear that your love for us is never-ending and unconditional. May you give us the strength and boldness to express our love for others in ways we haven’t contemplated before.
Jim Bramlett and his wife Pam have been members of Saint Andrew for over 10 years and live in Lenexa.