It is the beginning of Lent, and there is amusement in some circles that this is a difficulty for those who love chocolate but have chosen to abstain for 40 days.
I have grown to appreciate the season of Lent; and like Advent, it is one of solemn reflection and spiritual preparation. Last year I posted every week on a reflection for Lent, and those seven reflections are now available in a little booklet for those interested.(just e-mail me at email@example.com)
It is also the season of Love, and Valentines dominate the marketing theme of any store you will walk into. It is a great day for restaurants, florists, chocolatiers, and card-makers.
It has always been a fun day for me, since I enjoy seasonal things, and making cards is a lovely pastime.
I've been thinking about Love this week, and doodled this famous passage from 1 Corinthians 13, the Love chapter in the Bible.
We use the word love loosely, I noticed as I reread this that I talked about loving chocolate. And yes, it is one of my favourite food-groups, especially if it is the good-quality kind.(happy thoughts!)
Love is often related to romantic love, and yes, this should be celebrated... every day. I am grateful for my marriage, and a wonderful husband.
But I am too aware that this is a gift not everyone experiences, for I work with the widowed, the lonely, and many other single people... some by choice. Being single is a growing statistic, some saying it is as high as 48 per cent. That is half of us!
While some might be content with living alone, and are comfortable with solitude, others experience deep loneliness. Even governments are recognizing the downsides of loneliness, recently I saw a news report that Great Britain had created a government position to address the lonely, because it was linked to health concerns.
I also read recently that one of the best factors to a long life is having healthy connections with others. Connection is a powerful word, and a I believe it is a longing in all of us. We long to be connected to our families in meaningful ways, and good friendships are precious.
Connection takes work, I think... it means reaching out, even when we are lonely. It means making that phone call, not waiting for the phone to ring. It means joining a group, showing up, and for some, their church family becomes that meaningful connection. There are groups of all kinds, senior's centers, art centers, sports opportunities and support groups. There are places to volunteer and get involved.
Knowing that God loves me, that the Creator desires meaningingful connection with us fills me with gratitude. I also recognize that we all need at times connections "with skin on". Meaningful touch, a hug, can change how we feel.
Lately we approach touch with so much caution, we hear in the news all about inappropriate touch, and how it is affecting peoples lives as they come forward and tell their stories. This is a travesty.
It is also a travesty when we stop connecting in meaningful ways, with hugs and gentle touch.
It is wonderful to know that we are loved... unconditionally, just as we are.