I used to hate Valentine's Day. All romantic notions and lofty daydreams wrapped in red satin bows, just waiting for disappointment and disillusionment. It never works out the way it does on the Hallmark channel. I tread carefully here, since I've had the same Valentine for over thirty years and I absolutely wouldn't have it any other way. He speaks a beautiful love language. But offerings of flowers and candlelight on a specific day in the middle of February isn't it.
Truth be told, I'm not the best gift-giver either. I try hard, but I can't always make the grand ideas in my head match what actually happens, especially on a deadline of someone else's making. Two years ago, I hated Valentine's Day the most. That was my first year of Instagram. Since I use Pinterest maybe 4 times a year and only when I'm specifically researching to find out how to do something, Instagram is my visual connection to the vast world out there.
Instagram explodes with hearts and flowers and husbands and mothers who are just so very good at this whole Valentine thing. Last year, I didn't even look there at all on February 14 because the year before it was so deflating. Not good enough. Not good enough. Not good enough.
It's a language problem, really. I see that now. Love speaks so many languages and sometimes, there is only one person in the world who can understand the language of another. And, if that is the case, then a picture posted for all the world to see probably isn't going to convey its meaning.
My friend Lisa-Jo is writing today about all the ways Love runs. She is putting words to the expressions of love that far exceed cards in red envelopes and out-of-season, not-local-at-all flowers. She's got an amazing, amazing act of love to tell you about, something we can all share.
She asked about gardens and love. I laughed out loud, alone in my bed last night, when I read it. Gardens are sort of running joke around here. In my imagination, I have a lush, beautiful garden growing in my backyard. Something nearly big enough to sustain us. It's a ridiculous dream in a lot of ways. I can't do the labor to establish a garden of that size. Most of our backyard is a soccer field. And, really, do the math: do you know how much spinach I'd have to plant to keep a family this size in salad? It's crazy. My husband spends long days working and any "leisure time" caring for his children. He wasn't called to be a farmer, even of a little farm. He was called to be the dad on the sidelines all over the world.
So, I have a little vegetable garden and a full bed of roses along the side of the house. And I can't ever go out to tend those roses without remembering the words spoken by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. "How can there be too many children? That's like saying there are too many flowers."
My husband has spent the last 26 years gathering the most amazing bouquet for me. He tends it ever so carefully. He shelters it in life's raging storms. He tenderly tucks warmth around it on cold nights and he offers it nourishment and refreshment on hot days. He blows gentle breezes onto its faces and smiles sunshine at how beautifully it blooms.
Today, he'll try to do a little airline magic to get home after all flights were canceled yesterday. Likely, he'll have to drive to an airport other than the one he intended originally. He'll have to catch a plane that flies "home" to the airport in the city instead of the one ten minutes from our house. He'll have to drive home in the slippery, ugly aftermath of what used to be a beautiful snowstorm. And then, he will walk through the door and love will light the room. He'll gather tender rosebuds, and tall, woody reeds of gold. He'll tousle their heads and kiss their cheeks and take their handmade offerings and tell them how wonderful it all is.
I will remember that this is my Valentine bouquet, grown in the garden of his heart and this man has sown seeds of love and made sure the finest blossoms grew. every. single. day. since he first promised he would on a dark Valentine's Eve 32 years ago. That's one dedicated gardener, there.
"There is no greater happiness for a man than approaching a door at the end of a day knowing someone on the other side of that door is waiting for the sound of his footsteps."
~ Ronald Reagan
My heart skips a beat just thinking about his footsteps on the front porch.
Psst: Go visit Lisa-Jo.