In the heart of winter we celebrate a day that focuses on the principle of love, and even though as a culture we have forged it into another marketing opportunity, its message goes beyond the Hallmark moment. We have a hard time in the United States looking at the deeper aspects of love, and tend to relegate it to a romantic notion. However, there is much more to be discovered within ourselves individually and as a society related to the capacity for loving..
Mother Teresa once stated that the United States is the wealthiest nation on earth materially, but bankrupt in love. We may look at one another and wonder what she means. Yet, for those who have traveled to third world countries and been with the poorest of the poor, there is understanding. They have little in the way of material goods. But they have very big hearts.
Recently a friend mentioned that her nephew had just returned from serving in the armed forces in Iraq for over 9 months. When asked what impressed him most, he stated that there were many more positive things going on than what we see on the news. However, he said that one thing struck him more than anything else. He’d been in many homes of Iraqi citizens, and stated that the people are very poor, sometimes with almost no food to eat. However, he could not get over their generosity of spirit and the way they extended themselves not only to one another, but to those considered strangers who entered their dwelling. He said he could never again look at material things the way he had previously, and that he realized the only thing of value was the love we hold for one another.
We read about alienated people and neighbors not even knowing neighbors, and we wonder why our society seems so shallow. This season, let’s take the opportunity to remember what really matters and extend ourselves, not in material gifts, but to one another from the heart—in love.