‘Tis the week for love

Funny how we need a day of the year to celebrate love… But, since we do, it’s good to reflect for a moment on the many kinds of love we have in our lives.

Many of us know this, many wouldn’t believe it, but there’s a lot of love happening in the workplace (I don’t mean the adultery, snicker-snicker kind of activity).

You know what I mean… co-workers who actually care about what’s happening in each other’s lives, at or away from work. For instance, I don’t think I’ve ever met a group of people who care so much about each other than the folks who work at the Community Career Centre in the Bayfield Mall. Employment counsellors, career managers, receptionists, admin support people… these folks connect not only with their client base but with each other in a way that says “you matter.” That’s love.

Many of us have clients and customers that we care about, beyond the sale, beyond the contract. We care about their initiatives, their energies, their setbacks, their successes. That’s love.

If we have significant people with whom we’re sharing our intimate lives, they anchor us in a way that hopefully allows us to focus and excel in our individual, very special ways. With these people we plan our futures, celebrate our families, laugh, cry, and walk through tragedies. That’s love. It’s often the only kind of love that gets emphasized in our crazy world.

I was out west for three days last week connecting with one of my children who’s working at the top of the Rocky Mountains. Watching him work, laughing with him as he kibbitzed with his sister, enjoying the family camaraderie that comes with loving reminds me of the strength of loving a child. And being loved in returned. That’s love.

And guess who took me to the airport? Another great love in my life. My friend Mary Anne, who has lived in Calgary for the past four years, picked me up at the base of the mountain and drove me to the airport, squeezing a comfortable visit into the time frame. I see Mary Anne every day, though she’s thousands of miles away from me. She’s in the photograph of my nursery school class in 1951 that hangs on my bedroom wall. Together we started kindergarten, and then joined Brownies; we led our respective Girl Guide troops, laughed our way through camp, celebrated first boyfriends, beamed at college graduations, smiled through each other’s weddings, cried over the deaths of a stillborn child, and again over the end of a marriage. It goes on and on, literally a lifetime of growing up together. And now our conversation centred almost completely on whether or not we’d be able to afford to retire! That’s love.

Our friendships, whether they’re the intense, every-day, best-friend type or the comfortable, call-when-you-can eternal type, sustain us often in ways we can only imagine. A friend who shows up to mow the lawn or process laundry when you’re in hospital… That’s love.

So, where did this celebration of love come from? Way back, it seems, to 269 when Valentine of Terni and of Rome was beheaded by the king of the day for contravening legislation and, as a physician, assisting martyrs.

Valentine is the patron saint of lovers, travellers, young people and beekeepers and is usually pictured in the company of a crippled or epileptic child. He was delisted from the Catholic Book of Saints in 1969. However, the impact of the celebration around his memory holds fast.

And cards? Where did cards come from? Take your pick on the stories here… The Victorian era, famous for its repression of openly expressing love, is credited with the profileration of cupids, roses, doves and hearts. Prior to that era, sweethearts sent handwritten notes.

February 14 might be most significant for my friend Graham Valentine, himself the god of furniture reupholstery and rejuvenation.

Love will certainly be celebrated in a hands on way at St Andrews Presbyterian Church on Monday evening as an army of volunteers feeds twice as many homeless, people they don’t know on any other level, during one of the Out of the Cold dinners.

Now, that’s love.