Behold the Heart!
February was the month of love. This means that there is an impending avalanche of heart-shaped chocolates, teddy bears and lacy red lingerie.
February gave me an excuse to release my inner romantic by indulging in love-song karaoke. I have many favourites. They include Adele’s “Someone Like You” and Ed Sheeran’s “All Of The Stars”. For some reason, an old song is jammed in my inner Spotify playlist: Cher’s “It’s In His Kiss”, from the 1990 movie Mermaids (and itself a cover of an even older soul song from the 1960s). The lyrics include the line: “If you wanna know if he loves you so / It’s in his kiss.” While there are flashes of truth in this statement, I wonder if there isn’t an overemphasis on physical expression as a measure of love.
William Shakespeare wrote that “the eyes are the windows to the soul”, and the Gospel of Matthew quotes Jesus: “The lamp of the body is the eye. It follows that if your eye is clear, your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is diseased, your whole body will be darkness. If then, the light inside you is darkened, what darkness that will be!” (6:22-23)
God gave us eyes as more than just being tools that enable us to navigate the world around us. God knows that we crave beauty and therefore gave us eyes that we may behold it. I think he also gave us eyes so that we may see within ourselves, as we might in a mirror. I think of the many blind people who have never laid eyes on themselves but nonetheless trust in the divine image in which they have been created.
God also gave us eyes so that we may see others. This scares us in one way but fulfils us in another. We desire to be seen. Nobody likes to go unnoticed. But we may be afraid of being seen as we really are. People might catch on to what is really taking place within our souls. It’s not always pretty, is it? Beneath all that is good in us, there are grudges, lies and wounds. But isn’t love meant to see another for who they really are — and to love them anyway?
I once heard it said that intimacy can be understood, by means of verbal wordplay, as “into-me-see”. What happens when we go without intimacy? I think the response can be seen by the world’s many antidotes to intimacy. There is the standard of chocolate, flowers and teddy bears. And there are other “solutions” given to us by the world, such as binge-watching television series. I’m an expert at this and have spent a many a night with television as company.
Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate and flowers, even if my current financial situation means that I will need to apply for sponsorship to have truffles and a dozen red roses! But can these things serve as a substitute for being truly known and loved, in spite of all that is known about you? I don’t think they can. The delicate threads of our hearts woven together create a picture which tells us that we want more than just luxurious sweets, flora and cards.
And so, this Valentine’s Day, I pray that everyone may find the intimacy that they long for and deserve. Be brave and look into the eyes of another and truly see them. St Valentine, the martyr, has given us a great example by showing couples that love can survive all things when Christ is at the centre.
St Valentine, pray for us!