loud, rebellious loving kindness

tomorrow the world will “celebrate” valentine’s day. well, tomorrow some people in the world will celebrate this day. others will dread it, disparage it, ignore or mock it. some will profit from it, taking advantage of our consumer culture. others will use the day to internalize the lie that they are unloveable, alone, and valentine-less.
when did this happen? when did we stop crafting construction paper and doilies into meaningful sentiments in favor of mass produced boxes of star wars and barbie valentines? when were chocolate and roses named the official gifts of february 14? when did we become so willing to accept cultural pressure to make the day a hallmark one? when?
in my opinion tomorrow is the perfect opportunity to dust off our empathy and practice it well. we are all, you see, human. we are all, therefore, fearful at some level that we are, at root, unloveable, unconnectable, flawed beyond the point of being seen honestly and still cared for and about. we know what it’s like to feel unrecognized when others are being celebrated. if we don’t know what this feels like it’s time to stop and pay attention in a new way.
valentine’s day began as a feast day to honor st. valentine who, according to legend, was willing to break the law requiring soldiers to be celibate and single. he performed marriages when they were illegal. the day honors a person who rebelled against the rule of the day in order to honor the greater law of love. historical writings suggest that he behaved lovingly not only to couples who wanted to marry but also to others he encountered. he was radically loving.
what might it look like for you to be radically loving today? not just of the person you love in that “hallmark valentine way” but in all ways.
what if you carried a pad of small sticky notes and wrote a note of praise to the manager of every person who provided you with good service?
what if you called your close friends, actually called them, and told them that they matter to you?
what if you loved yourself in a meaningful way? took yourself to a movie? took a longer than normal hot shower? walked barefoot on a soft surface? bought yourself a song? or a card? or lunch? and savored it.
what if you tore a piece of copy paper into the shape of a heart and wrote a corny encouragement note on it for a co-worker? or librarian? or the dry cleaner? or your niece or nephew or neighbor?
what if you gave your partner the gift of telling him or her what would be meaningful to you on this day rather than expecting him or her to read your mind?
what if you left a thank you note in your outgoing mail for the mail carrier?
what if you took a risk and cared and did it out loud so those you care about could see?
i’d love to hear about the ways large and small that you find to recognize people tomorrow...


  1. Thank you for this Doreen. I am all too familiar with feeling unlovable, alone, and Valentine-less. I also know what it feels like to be unrecognized when others are being celebrated. Tomorrow is a hard day for me because I have a painful anniversary of an event that changed my life forever. The thing that struck me in reading your post was that I am not alone. We all feel alone at times. We all feel unrecognized at times. We all have pain. We all hurt. My pain is great, but it isn't as great as others' pain. Tomorrow I am making a choice to give my love to those that have touched me, and to those who I don't even know. I can choose to be miserable and feel alone, or I can choose to celebrate those who have loved me and those that need love. Thank you for this post- it really grounded me.

  2. Doreen, you are so good at doing what you write about. The bag of home-made card making materials you gave us is nearly all used up. You'd also get a kick out of the line that the girls were going to use when they entered their classroom this morning: (in a loud voice) "I'm sorry boys, I'm already taken. I have a Valentine and his name is (dramatic pause) Daddy." not sure if it really happened, but we all had a good laugh together imagining them doing this. -josh

  3. I really like thinking of the broader context of love to celebrate on this day. I especially like taking back the day from the cynical consumerism that has sucked the life out of what it could be. That's rebellion of the highest order!