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Valentine's Day - an opportunity to expand our concepts of love

Whether you observe Valentine’s Day with others, or are on your own, please do something loving for the sake of it.

Love is a wonderous thing. It expands our horizons, fills us with joy, encourages us to reach out to others, to give without expectation, to share our God-given gifts, to care for the disadvantaged. I cannot begin to plum the depths of love any better than Paul does in 1Corinthians 1-12. Beautiful. It is no wonder that it is read at weddings (at least it was in the era in which I was married).

It seems an impossible list of virtues to live up to, all the time. For me, these virtues focus on our intention. Of course, other people will have their own opinions about our behaviour, which may or may not line up with our motivation. This is because we filter life through our own experiences. And many things are done in the name of love which have more to do with human self-interest than selfless objectives.

Valentine’s Day is dedicated to love. We love many people of course. February 14th is a time when we focus on that special one who knows us better than anyone else, who shares our life, our joys and sorrows and who supports us through it all. Roses and chocolate-covered strawberries; lacy cards with sweet verses are the hallmarks of love on this day. A diamond ring, special gift, sumptuous meal or a short get-away are popular means of sharing our feelings for that special person.

Whether that love is fresh and new or mature and settled, we are blessed to experience it. With that in mind, some time ago I wrote this poem:

The images are real.

One day I saw a young couple standing on the street,

Face to face.

She, smiling up at him; hands on his upper arms;

He, looking adoringly down at her, arms surrounding hers.

Young love, fresh, electric, entrancing.


Then I saw an elderly couple out for a walk,

Arm in arm.

He, supporting her fragile frame;

She, guiding his steps to aid his failing sight.

Mature love, committed, steady, divine.


Later, a single one sits on a bench, alone,

Picture in hand,

Remembering walks with the dear one no longer here;

Thinking about their young love, growing love, mature love;

A love that remains when only one is left to remember.


Hug the ones you love, dear ones, regularly.

That includes yourself. In case this idea is new to you, here is one way: Put your left hand in the pit of the right arm (your arm crosses your heart). Put your right hand on your left upper arm. Squeeze. Close your eyes, smile and breathe from the belly, 4 counts in, 8 counts out. Let your mind absorb the feeling; your body will believe you.

The love passages of 1 Corinthians guide our intentions in this life, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and show us how God loves us through Jesus. Whether you observe Valentine’s Day with others, or are on your own, please do something loving for the sake of it.

Cathy Carphin is a Certified Grief Educator, writer and poet, living in Victoria, BC. She leads healing conversations on grief. Other articles by Cathy can be read in the e-newsletter of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, Vancouver Island (CARP VI) and on

You can read more articles on our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking at