Love is a relationship, not an event

Today is Valentine’s Day. Not only is it a day of mandatory romance as dictated by Hallmark, but there’s a “Love Rally” planned for nation’s capitol, promoting love and denouncing hate.

Now, I’m all for romance and I much prefer love over hate, but whenever I see an event planned to promote love, my skepticism goes through the roof.

Love isn’t an event you can put on a calendar.

Love isn’t a cause you can rally for.

Love isn’t an idea you can die for.

Love is a living relationship between real people that requires time for any substantial depth.

Love may start with an event on a calendar, like a blind date that ends up in a marriage or a first day of third grade that ends up in a life-long friendship. But it isn’t that blind date or that first day of school. Those are merely the first line on the first page of a many-chaptered book.

A cause may bring people together who end up in a living relationship with one another, but more often than not causes eclipse relationships. The signs and banner and bumperstickers are often the important thing for those with causes, not engaging in relationships with the other sign-holders and especially not with those holding contrary signs.

When we turn love into an idea, it loses all concrete expression. But when we engage in concrete loving relationships, people get the idea. They see something real they can live out themselves, not a slogan to be paraded or a motivational plaque to hang on the way that sounds good but has no real expression.

When we turn love into a feeling, it becomes more about me than about us. But when we turn toward each other and pour into us, we get to that lovely feeling.

Instead of rallying for love, we should find those we don’t yet love and give them a plate of homemade cookies or a bouquet of flowers or invite them out for a cup of coffee or a pint of beer. Instead of rallying for love and feeling a self-righteous contempt for those others on the side of hate, we should repent of our contempt, seek out those so-called haters, and ask them to tell us why they feel so strongly about the beliefs we find so ugly.

Instead of turning Valentine’s Day into a romantic event with such high expectations that almost everyone ends up disappointed, how about taking time to tell old stories, to recount the days and weeks and months and years of love lived out together?

How about moving away from love as an event and moving toward love as a story?

[Ironically, the Love Rally was postponed at the last moment. Wouldn’t it be great if they focused on loving people instead of on rescheduling the event?]