Valentine’s Day is a great time to remember the love that has been brought into our lives. Recently, my family has been considering what love is and how it comes to us.
My sister Mary sits at the bedside of her husband, Tim, whom she lovingly calls Timmy. Both Mary and Tim are numbered National Ski Patrol, which means they have the skills and wherewithal to go into difficult situations and save the lives of others. Tim recently suffered a freak ski accident while working.
When Mary first arrived at the hospital in the middle of the night, four days ago, after Tim had been airlifted to the hospital, the staff awaited her departure from his room. She did not leave. A nurse tentatively stepped in and informed her that the hospital does not “like” it when people stay overnight. Mary smiled (and I can see that certain smile now in my mind) and said, “I have been by this man’s side for thirty-four years and I am not leaving it now.”
The hospital brought in a chair that unfolds into a bed (perhaps from maternity?) for Mary’s second night. When have you seen this thing called love?
Tim has always been a kind, gruff, loving man. It is hard to remember life before he came into our family. Over the years we have had our differences, but we have always understood that love is what creates a family.
Love has little to do with bouquets and candy. Love is more about watching the love of your life change due to age or illness and having that warm spot in the middle of your chest feel like it could spill out and drown everything in sight. Love is more about blood and water pouring from wounds than it is cupids and flower-strewn passageways. Love is seeing the one you love through the stress of life, even if that one can be named as the cause of some of that stress. When have you seen this thing called love?
Today, Mary holds Timmy’s hand as he lies on white hospital sheets, his coloring almost as pale as those sheets. She sits there waiting for him to be taken into surgery to stop a brain bleed.
1 Corinthians tells of the amazing breadth and height of love. The sweet secure depth of love and the tender stretch of love that provides something smooth and soft for the weary or frightened to fall into and find hope, find peace. But, really, when have you seen this thing called love?
Does it look like the illustration of forgiveness that Jesus offered on the cross for us all? Does it look like my sister sitting vigil, scraping together shreds of promises that she remembers in order to gather enough hope upon which to build a prayer? When have you seen this thing called love?
I want to know.
Inez Torres Davis is director for justice, Women of the ELCA.