“Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing,” according to the 1955 movie featuring William Holden and Jennifer Jones.
Indeed, love probably means as many different things as there are people – from the unselfish care of a Mother Teresa to the heart-pounding passion of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. Yet with Valentine’s Day upon us it’s the romantic variety tugging at our heartstrings, especially if we lack that special someone to share it with.
However, have you ever thought of love as something always present, rather than as a hole our hearts are trying to fill?
The poetry of the Bible portrays a divine love which speaks with a “still, small voice” that outlasts the “earthquake, wind and fire” of our human meltdowns. And history’s replete with observers who’ve stopped to listen for this voice and report its tender whisperings.
Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, for instance, wrote of labouring for an “inward stillness and an inward healing” where “in perfect silence…God alone speaks”.
In addition to hosting Valentine’s Day, February is designated National Heart Month in the UK and Heart Awareness Month in the USA. And one factor causing concern, according to research, is the kind of loneliness that achingly stretches beyond one special day.
Commenting on such chronic loneliness recently, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “It is a hidden killer that can lead to poor mental, physical and emotional health — from a higher risk of heart disease and dementia to an increased chance of an early admission into a care home.”
Interestingly, in researching one of these issues, a Dutch study found the onset of dementia was predicted by a mental state – the feeling of loneliness – rather than by social isolation itself.
That shouldn’t be surprising. The quality of our thinking is now widely recognised as a major factor in our health. In particular, some have found trading materialistic thinking for a more spiritual outlook can have a profound impact.
This was the case for a woman with heart trouble. Finding that “perfect silence” where “God alone speaks” she was surprised to find herself nursing a long-standing criticism of another. Alerted to it, she was able to replace it with forgiveness. Her physical health immediately improved as she made that mental shift.
“The heart palpitations stopped and settled back into a normal rhythm, and I just put the whole thing behind me,” she said.
It’s this sort of willingness to change our thinking that can also help fend off the Valentine Blues. Such humility can replace preconceived notions of what will make us happy with clearer views of good already at hand. By contrast, recent research suggests that the single-minded pursuit of happiness actually leaves people less happy.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t have someone special in our lives, because it’s certainly wonderful to be in love.
But whether or not we receive that heart-shaped card, chocolates, flowers and a candle-lit dinner on Valentine’s Day, we can be assured of the fact we are loved and complete this February 14th and, indeed, every day.
That “still, small voice” is telling us so.
This was first published in the Huffington Post UK as Seeking a New Route to Feeling Loved and Complete?