Saint Valentine’s Day 2017

The Ottoman poet Mihri Hatun wrote:

At one glance, I love you with a thousand hearts.

I’ve always been taken with that opening line, because it speaks with a vibrant passion that is rarely heard these days. We’ve become enamoured with the sounds of our own angry voices. It is easy to be angry—there is a lot about which to be angry—which is why a day like Saint Valentine’s Day is so important. It gives us the opportunity to re-assess and refocus.

As much as I dislike the commercial distortion of Saint Valentine’s Day, the same way I shun the commercial distortions of days like Christmas, I think it’s very important to celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day, if for no other reason than to refocus our attention on the happier things in life. It’s a chance to recall things that make you smile, that wipe a tear from your heart and give you joy.

We don’t talk about those much. I don’t know why.

There are many people to whom I am close, but have never actually met. They are scattered around the globe, and each means something unique to me. A few have been ‘with’ me during some of my direst moments. Others have been comforting and supportive at times when I doubted I would ever hear a kind voice again. And there are others I have met, to whom I am close but from whom I am far away. I’m not sure at all how they feel about me these days, but I know how I feel about them; I just have few opportunities to express it.  They are all people I can (and do) celebrate and treasure.

Saint Valentine’s Day is a delightful opportunity for people to refocus, and to express what they feel. Flowers and chocolate hearts are fine, but they are objects. What I believe most people would like to hear is the unadorned truth. ‘I love you. I value everything you are and do. You are my world.’

There are many things worth fighting for. Not everyone can fight passionately and with a clean heart. Although it should be constant, at least on this day, the 14th of February, we can set all that besets us aside, and tell the people who really matter, ‘At one glance, I love you with a thousand hearts.’

Paul TN Chapman
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