Hearts and flowers, flowers and hearts. Again we water down a saint, St. Valentine, and a word – love! (more on Valentine) Valentine isn’t given a day in the church calendar and yet society has chosen this day in recognition of love.

Love is more than hearts and flowers and candy. It is soft and playful, tough and resilient. Love is more than a warm, fuzzy feeling, felt on a summer day or in the sunshine of new love. It is also a choice. We chose to love, over and over again, even when the first feelings are gone, even when love gives away to anger or even hatred. We chose to love again and again till the feeling returns, stronger, deeper than before.

Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing, so says Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Community, quoting Fyodor Dostoevsky. And well she knew. She chose to love the poor and homeless even when they smelled from living on the street, even when they threatened violence or were emotionally disturbed, even when they returned her gifts of love with a snarl. She chose to love even when it was hard to do so.

So we, too, must love, even when it is hard. We need to give gifts of love, hearts and flowers and candy, even when love has lost its bloom, in memory of those early days of passionate love, in recognition of the greater love that has developed, and in promise of love yet to come.

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.    John 15:12-13

This post is part of a series of reflections on the church year. For more, go to www.patriciamrobertson.com