The month of February focuses our attention on love. Cards are bought, candy is given, kisses abound. What is it about love? We simply cannot get enough of it. “I love you” and “I’m in love with you.” Is there a difference? Yes. “I’m in love with you” has more infatuation and projection attached and “I love you” has more of day-to-day companionship attached. Each has its mystery. Mystery, by definition, cannot be completely understood. I like the word mystery because it elevates a subject. Anthropologist, Dr. Helen Fisher, writes that mystery is part of infatuation and critical to romantic love. But the feeling of security that long lasting love provides is important, too. Both kinds of love do indeed make the world go round.
This second month of the year also brings our focus to the heart, this vital organ which beats an average of 100,000 times each day. But our emotional heart is complicated: it has both dark and light places. On the dark side of the heart are emotions such as jealously, envy, rage and revenge. These negative feelings feed on themselves and harbor ill will.
We have all experienced being hurt and hurting others – sometimes knowingly; sometimes unknowingly, but continuing to hurt another is beyond the pale. Darker feelings also lower the self-esteem of the person carrying them. We cannot have high self-esteem while holding onto the darker emotions in our hearts; they are mutually exclusive. I have never known anyone to hold both.
On the light side of the heart are love, forgiveness, compassion and transformation. The Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, taught that the “Self” was the organizing principle in our psyche which brought harmony to our unconscious, our conscious and our ego. Our personalities become more “whole” when we pay attention to our inner worlds as well as our outer worlds and behaviors. Developing the “Self” (which I think is the sacred part of us) is key to our personal happiness when we desire a compassionate and loving relationship with our God, ourselves and others as well.
People who love are people who forgive. Who cannot appreciate how our hearts are transformed when we hear someone say, “I’m sorry; please forgive me.” So let us have the grace to forgive or at least to let go. Let us reach out to everyone this month, but particularly extend a hand to those with broken or grieving hearts who have suffered a loss of any kind. February – with society’s emphasis on Valentine hearts – can be especially painful if someone’s arms ache for a beloved.
And so, my Friends and Readers, I embrace the frequently quoted bible passage, “There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love.” A wise thought indeed which offers each of us an immediate and beautiful plan to make Every Day Matter.