Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Musings on Love for Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is the tame bump in the road between Christmas and Easter that often happens near the not-so-tame Mardi Gras (depending on where you are), dark and dour Ash Wednesday (for you liturgical types) and a fiery St. Patty’s Day (for those whose hearts burn green for Erin) a month later. Arguably, Christmas is more about true love than Valentine’s Day. Nevertheless, it’s nice to have the opportunity to bolster our benevolent inclinations of fondness toward one another, whether romantic or innocent.

My daughter, Hope, just turned 8 a couple of weeks ago. The ‘Y’ held a father-daughter dance. (Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve never seen so many Baptists show up to a dance.) The daughters were all about my daughter’s age,so dancing sometimes involved bouncing a balloon back and forth. We did such dances as the Hokey-Pokey, the chicken dance and the limbo (dad’s and daughters had separate poles) and played some games. We had one slow dance when they played “Butterfly Kisses”. [sniff] How precious can you get? One dad held his little girl up so she could put her head on his shoulder and swayed back and forth with her. Some of the daughters were dancing on their dad’s feet. A couple of dads had more than one daughter there and swayed back and forth with all of them at the same time. My daughter simply put one arm around my waist and laid her head on my belly…

…I’m going to so bawl at her wedding.

I think about my mom, too. She died of cancer when I was 11.I’m now older than she was when she died. She used to sit me on her lap when she played the piano. She taught me how to paint. She would get me to help her grade her English papers. She planted the coolest arboreal garden, and taught me how to build a fire. After that, it was my job to bring in firewood, build and maintain a fire in the fireplace in the den. I remember sleeping in her lap as she drove (the laws regarding the operation of motor vehicles were less stringent then). I don’t look much like her, but my daughter does. Hope has the same fair hair, narrow chin and widely spaced blue eyes of my mom. I have no doubt that I’m the sort of man now she would have hoped to have raised. I wonder if I’m the sort of man shewould have been happy to call a friend had she never known me otherwise.

My dad's mom (we always called her "Ma-Maw") was special to me. She died of emphysema when I was a senior in high school (yes, smoking can kill you). I remember visiting in Kentucky with she and "Pa-Paw". My special time with her was early in the morning when she would rise and go to the kitchen I would get up and follow her. Sitting at the small table in the kitchen, she would make waffles for me and we would sit, just she and I, for breakfast.

As for my wife, Lois, I can say I love her more now than ever. The emotion is not as intense, but the commitment is. Emotion is mere hormones. Commitment is spiritual. Love that comes from God is spiritual. I don’t converse well with people. It’s usually easy to get people to talk about themselves and then I have some common ground on which to converse with them. Most people are so self-obsessed that they don’t return the interest. I’m a bad salesman and don’t sell myself very well.Between odd mannerisms generated by a controlled adult ADD and an all-too-polite sense of restrained self-disclosure, I’m easily interrupted. Consequently, most people ignore me in conversations. I married Lois because she actually shuts her mouth when I open mine and waits until I finish a thought before speaking. She is the rare someone with whom I can converse. And after 11 years of marriage she is even starting to understand me although she yet groans at my puns. Perhaps such is her sacrificial burden of love toward me.

Mine for her is her fibromyalgia. I can't even massage her back anymore. She's always fighting a flare up. The only place it seems to let up lately is when we're in Venezuela. God has provided healthful solace for us to accomplish His purposes there. I pray she has a good summer there, even without me but for a fortnight.

En todo, such reflections incline us toward fondness. God gives us history to build His relationship with us. He also gives us history to build relationships with each other. Let it be in His name that we build our relationships with each other, not just for this season, but always.

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