Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. It is a holiday that can be a source of joy and anxiety at the same time.
It is a time we celebrate love. Jewelers sell diamond pendants and movie rental shops put the romantic movies in the front display. As a chocolate lover, I especially enjoy the chocolate aspect of this holiday. Heart-shaped boxes of candy abound in all sizes and price ranges. I also love the heavy handed romanticism of Valentine’s Day. I am, as my husband will tell you, a silly romantic. Golden Cupids, pink and red frilly note cards, flowers — I just love that kind of stuff.
But Valentine’s Day can also be a day of self doubt and loneliness for so many people. Not everyone is in a romantic relationship. Some people are in relationships that are very troubled and celebrating their love just doesn’t feel sincere. Some people are grieving the loss of a love, though death or divorce. Valentine’s Day can, for some, just be a reminder of the disappointments they face every day. At Valentine’s Day it seems like love is in the air, but it is not in their life. Seeing the candy hearts in the store is just a poignant reminder that they will not be receiving one this year.
Remember how in early elementary school, the teachers insisted that everyone in the class give a Valentine card to everyone else. No one was excluded from the classroom celebration and good wishes. We were all expected to acknowledge and respect the relationship we had with each member of the class. It was nice to get and give all those good wishes from classmates.
We were not romantically involved with each other, but we were in community with each other. Everyone was treated as a beloved person, no matter who they were. This was such a wonderful gift. But in our school days, the years went on and things changed. In high school, some kids would receive tokens of love from friends and sweethearts. They might get flowers or cards or balloons attached to their locker. Others did not get these accolades of affection and had the potential to feel left out or, even worse, unloved. This is a sad feeling, to feel unappreciated or unloved.
I hope that our community can be like a first-grade classroom at this Valentine’s season. I am not talking about romance, but of the basic love we have for our fellow human being. I hope that everyone here can experience that they are loved and accepted for who they are. We all have inherent worth and dignity as unique and blessed human beings. I hope we can live in a community of warmth and respect, where everyone is acknowledged and celebrated.
We all contribute to the community in our own way. Perhaps you are a civic leader in this city. Perhaps you are one who has lived here a long time and knows the history of this special place. Perhaps you have a ready smile for a passer-by on the street. Perhaps your hard times remind us to work for a more just society.
Regardless of what kind of cards or candy you receive this Valentine’s Day, I hope you feel loved in some way. And I hope you love many other people as well. Everyone is worthy of basic human love from their fellow human being. You are a person of worth and this community would not be the same without you, or the person next to you on the street. Happy Valentine’s Day.
• Rev. Sarah Schurr is a minister at the Juneau Unitarian