“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning had a good idea when she wrote those simple words to her darling Robert. Sometimes, it is important to make the effort to say not just that you love someone, but to explain the fervor behind the feeling.
“I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach.”
Three little words might speak to a bond, but examining it to put a name, a measure and a limit to it comes harder.
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But when it comes down to it, words are still just words. “Show, don’t tell” are words that every would-be writer has been told. Or had written in red letters on the side of a piece of paper covered with what she thought were very important thoughts. Not that I’m bitter.
“I love thee to the level of everyday’s most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.”
And as we inch up on Valentine’s Day, with people making reservations for dinner and ordering roses, we should remember that romantic love is only a small part of the story.
In a world where we often focus on bad, we can’t forget that love surrounds us all the time.
“I love thee freely, as men strive for right.”
The lunchbox a mom packs her kid with strawberry jam, not grape jelly, crusts cut off, and an extra string cheese? That’s love. So is the refrigerator drawing of a cat with ... is that wings? Oh, of course it’s a pterodactyl. I can totally see that.
“I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.”
The teacher who answers emails about problems at school even though it’s 10 p.m. on a Saturday. The nurse who cries with the woman who just lost her husband. The firemen who drive for miles to honor a fallen brother or to throw Tootsie Rolls to curbside kids in parades.
“I love thee with passion put to use.”
For more than 20 years, Centre County people have amazed me with their ability to turn something they love into something they share.
I have seen people who loved music share that gift with an audience, and people who love theater share it with a new generation of thespians. I have seen people who love animals make taking care of them their real life’s work, while that job they have just pays the bills. I have seen people take the heartbreak of losing someone they love and turn it into a monument of service to try to keep other people’s hearts whole.
Valentine’s Day is often spurned as a Hallmark holiday, a forced occasion that puts money into the pockets of candy companies and doesn’t really mean much.
I”m not that cynical.
I don’t mind celebrating love, all kinds of love, on the 14th of February, because it reminds me to appreciate the love I am thankful to have around me all the time.