The angel bear statue at CancerCare looked oblivious to the icicles on its wings as it reached down to minister to someone. It could well be me that is being embraced. I think that undistracted dedication is how my angels guard my every move too. The Psalm today is 91. It seems like an extraordinary gift that is fitting for Valentine’s Day. A well-known one, it carried me through the early days of my medical maze. I would listen to this version of the song almost nightly, imagining angel wings wrapped around me. I slept soundly, secure in God’s love.
Satan in the Gospel refers to this Psalm when Jesus is tempted in the desert. He tries to convince Jesus to put God to the test regarding his loving care. Satan fails to trick Jesus who stands strong. He knows that God is a God who loves him. He does not follow Lucifer into the mind games being played out. We can do the same.
This Valentine’s Day, who do you count on for loving you? Who would you never betray? Jesus is my Beloved and has been for most of my life. I came to love him early on and I trust him more than anything. I know that not everything makes sense to people right now, but that is OK. I do not pretend to know everything. I do know that right now, I am still trusting the Holy Trinity. That is all I know how to do. I am very loyal to the Three-in-One.
On this day of Love, so highly commercialized, I find myself grateful for the outpouring of Love to me shown throughout my life but especially for the last year and a bit. I had this conversation with my social worker at CancerCare on Friday about how many people are saying I love you now and how those same words flow from my lips or through the keyboard into cyberspace. I have always known that I am loved but I see both men and women risking vulnerability to let me know that my life has blessed them. Equally I am learning to be vulnerable with my earth angels.
A strange phenomena occurs sometimes at the end of an outing. The person turns around, before they leave, teary-eyed. I am recognizing the pattern so I too begin to cry. The truth of what had been left unsaid comes out at the last minute. Raw vulnerability spills forth. This is Love. So many people have been left speechless at the news. Some eventually find words…beautiful, meaningful words. I find this overwhelming but pure gift. I try to respond with equal amounts of grace though I am finding it a challenge to keep up with the email correspondence. Today I spent some time responding to ones I had received earlier. On this day that celebrates love, I felt drawn to make some time to do that.
We are creatures who do not like to bear our souls but I do not think that is how God made us. We guard our hearts and our words. I think we were made to live lovingly. We never know how long we have; we should not hold back on being loving. We should not wait until we have months left to live or before it is too late. Friends of mine lost their adult son suddenly this week. He was not feeling well and went to rest for a bit. He never woke up. I cannot imagine how devastating that must be. I am grateful for the chance to hear what people have to say and to be able to tell people how important they have been in my life.
We hold back in life, waiting for the right moment, or some magical sign that may never come. If I could encourage people to do one thing in my memory, this might be it: live lovingly. Do not wait to say I love you. Do not let fear keep you stuck. Let love rule your heart, while common sense prevails in your head. Love those around you. Delight in life. Dance in your kitchen. Laugh out loud. Be distracted by beauty. Create joy. Let gratitude overtake you and spill from your mouth and deeds often. Be vulnerable sometimes. Take risks. Act with kindness. Look in the mirror and stop criticizing. Believe in yourself. Serve the least of these. Forgive more easily whenever possible. Let it go. Listen to yourself and hear the contradictions in your own story–and then set about to remedy that. Do not always put yourself last. See God in each person you meet and in all creation. Trust that God is with you at every moment–even in the temptations. Life is magnificent. Embrace it completely.
This Valentine’s Day think about Love differently. Open your heart to wonder and joy. Ask fear to stop interfering. Tell those special people in your life that they mean the world to you. In the next week, decide who you are going to tell that they have made a difference in your life. Let it surprise and bless them. I can only tell you that from my personal experience, loving words heal the soul. Help spread Love in a desperate world.
How vulnerable do you make yourself with your feelings for other people?
In order to love more fully, what do you need to do differently?
Gracious God, you created us in Love. May we learn to be free to say what is in our hearts and on our minds in order to bring blessings to all those around us. May we receive the Love that is given to us with gratitude and wonder. You so loved the world that you gave us Jesus, the Beloved, who longs for us to be whole and happy. Thank you. Amen.