As we move from January to February, one can’t help but think of the approaching holiday of the month, Valentine’s Day. There are many things about Valentine’s Day I have loved. I loved the little candy hearts and the Valentine’s cards we gave in elementary school. It seemed simple when I was young: There were parties and everyone exchanged cards and gifts. As I grew older, it got more complicated: Did I have a date? Would I have a date and, if so, how would it go? There were questions about the level of your relationship and, of course, that led to what kind of date it would be.
However, there is another side. The commercial side of this or any American holiday doesn’t really take into account those who feel lonely, those who are not in a loving relationship or those who have been in a loving relationship but now are not and for whatever reason have suffered that loss. It also brings into question what gets painted as the picture of love, all the smiles and music from the jewelry store commercial. Love takes work. Love is glorious and joyful, challenging and painful and can leave us feeling vulnerable. There is risk in love. Risk in that first step as we begin any relationship and risk in the first step back when things haven’t been going well.
This is not only true in our personal relationships, but in our relationships in loving community. It is work to be in loving community. There will be disagreements, there will be contrary opinions, but there will also be moments of great connection, support, joy and love. As Universalist minister Hosea Ballou (Apr. 30, 1771-Jun. 7, 1852) said, “If we agree in love, there is no disagreement that can do us any injury, but if we do not, no other agreement can do us any good. Let us endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace.”
As we celebrate this Valentine’s month, in our personal relationships and in our relationships here at UUCF, I encourage all of us to reach out in love in ways that are a little risky, to those who are alone, to those we don’t know, to those who need our love. I also ask for us to agree in love, to communicate with kindness and to give that extra bit of grace that comes from that deep place in the heart.