Joining in the fun of construction paper creations with middlest and biggest this year, I found myself researching the appropriate use of apostrophes and wielding a glue stick for the first time in many years as I shared love through snail mail with friends back in Michigan. Actual Valentine’s Day (I am electing to keep the possessive form) for me began in a room full of osteopaths where the study of Biodynamics led to an extraordinary discussion of love.
Though the details of the dialogue were certainly stimulated by the theme of the day, our study in osteopathy is never far from the concept of love – of learning, of anatomy, of health, of the work, of ourselves, of our patients. In relating the experience of a truly meaningful treatment, we reviewed the concept of being present but not prominent, engaged but not intrusive. We were advised the ultimate love is to be unseen but fully awake to the health. While this was in reference to the treatment of patients and our role as osteopath, the concept struck me as universally applicable and rang true to the concept of compassion. As we all strive for unconditional – the ultimate – in love, for ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbors, our world – what a simple yet profound concept to be present, to bear witness to the health, the good, in all without personal agenda or ulterior motive.
My initial thoughts drifted to one of the more prominent moments when I witnessed love in action – the Love Party celebrating the matrimony of my brother and his bride. It was a beautiful, creative evening that stretched into an extended family celebration filled with unique expressions of love. On the day, we had opportunity to break into teams and share creative descriptions and metaphors of love, spanning from lasagna to home, the latter of which resonates conceptually with me still, some years later. With the movement of a few lines, love and home were shown to be virtually interchangeable. True love is indeed where we feel safe, sheltered, supported, which can be manifested physically, but more often is nestled in the minds and hearts of others.
Though ever present in even the simple and seemingly mundane moments – a lunch packed, a dish washed, a back rubbed – love often strikes us most profoundly during the monumental milestones. The overwhelming sense of pure and true love in the moments after the first breath out of the womb or the first kiss of wedded bliss are often matched only in gravity of the stinging and intense love that follows the final exhale of an earthly life. Honoring the wholeness of health to include the process of dying and our experience of death, our discussion on Valentine’s Day included a most poignant statement by Dr. Jealous:
Your next lifetime is in the hearts of those who love you
I might have missed the conversation immediately following, as these dozen words hit me heavy and I sat with them for some time, considering their significance. For those we have loved and lost, what an honor and legacy to continue their good work, with their life and light in our hearts, and thus in all we manifest. What a true sense of continuum for the here and now as a little piece of my next lifetime might already be taking place all around the world, in the hearts of those who love me. In that moment, I felt more connected, more alive and more in love than ever before. Never had my heart been so full as I considered all those I love taking up space, life manifesting from many within.
I initially began to write this on Valentine’s Day, but it felt bigger than a holiday and never came to fruition. As the following weeks unfolded, I noticed many of my dearest friends commemorating the physical loss of loved ones so special and it felt right to finally knit the thoughts together, honoring a sisterhood separated in space but not spirit. Today seems a particularly good day to complete the sentences after finishing a race with my family this morning, honoring the fleet feet of a brother whose finishing time was too fast on this earth but left an infinite influence of excellence. With particular consideration for hearts especially tender after just one circle around the sun has completed since the departure of a father who so fully embodied joy and vigor for life, I write these words, more inspired to embrace the moment, enjoy the laughter and live for now.
In a time when hope often seems lost, prejudice dominates tolerance, division more common than alliance, I am reinvigorated by the omnipotence of lifetimes living infinitely in love. Under roofs physical or theoretical, our hearts are home and home is love. Through action or word – spoken or written, with the occasional artistic flare only a glue stick can provide – I strive to make my heart a hospitable place suitable for the adventures of many so loved.
May we honor the legacy of those we hold dear with a lifetime eternal in love.