Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Celebrating Love in London

‘Love, soft as an easy chair, love, fresh as the morning air; One love that is shared by two, I have found with you. Like a rose under the April snow, I was always certain love would grow; Love, ageless and evergreen, seldom seen by two. You and I will make each night a first, every day a beginning; Spirits rise and their dance is unrehearsed, they warm and excite us, 'cause we have the brightest love.’ ‘Evergreen’ song lyrics by Paul Williams and Barbra Streisand:

St Valentine was a Christian saint who lived 270AD. His name derives from the Latin word ‘valens’ which means ‘worthy’ and ‘powerful’. He is the patron saint of lovers, travellers and bee keepers. He is depicted with roses and birds. His feast day is on February 14th.  Like birthdays, anniversaries and other special and memorable occasions, Valentine’s Day is a ‘feel good day’ that should be celebrated by everyone. Traditionally, this is a day of romance, held this month because the birds are singing to each other (many mate for life) and are preparing to find a place to build a nest suitable to rear their young. All of nature is energised as the days increase in length. It is a time for tenderness, sweetness, beauty, comfort, connection, intimacy, luxury, sincerity, delight, pleasure and desire.

While romantic couples buy each other cards and gifts, cook a nice meal and pay each other compliments, those without a partner often feel lonely. Often, a word of appreciation can make someone’s day. Romance is not the only type of love. This is the day to celebrate all relationships, those of family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues. Love exists between people whenever there is affection, consideration, thoughtfulness, generosity and warmth. The Greeks had different words for different types of love, ‘eros’ which was erotic love, ‘caritas’, which was caring love, and ‘agape’, which was compassionate love. There was also self-love, which was named Narcissism after the youth, Narcissus, who fell in love with his reflection in a pool of water. Vanity has a rather negative connotation. Our personality needs balance and maturity and only when we develop a level of self-respect and positive self-regard, are we able to offer ourselves in equality, humility, openness and genuineness to another person.    

Yearning for the Moon by Jocelyn Chaplin
Therapist, Jocelyn Chaplin in her book ‘Love in an age of Uncertainty’ writes: ‘Everyone wants love. But exactly what each person means by that elusive little word depends on their belief system... many people think of love as a thing to get or possess like everything else in our consumer society… The ecstasy of falling in love generally lasts for a tragically short period of time, and yet this is for many their only time of experiencing being fully alive and in touch with the life force. When this fades, the ensuing disappointment often gets blamed on the other person. It seems that a sense of ultimate aloneness is just too much for most people to bear…The modern myth tells us that this alone feeling will go away only when we find the perfect partner to be 'kept' as long as possible. I would like to suggest an alternative myth that doesn't devalue the power of that ecstatic energy we also call being in love. The myth goes as follows: We are all born tingling with love energy all over our bodies and interconnected with similar energies in the universe around us… It is our natural ,birth right… Sometimes other people or situations help inspire these feelings, but they don't need to depend on others. This love energy actually belongs to us… It is simply being fully alive… It can take many forms… healing… Eros and Agape (compassionate love).’

What this day does is it provides the opportunity for us to talk about love to everyone, to our loved ones especially, telling them how important they are to us, how much we love and appreciate them, buy them gifts, send them loving messages, and most of all, deepen our love for them and from them to ourselves. Love stimulates brain chemicals called Norepinephrine and dopamine and these produce feelings of wellbeing and excitement.

This is a time of commitment. If you want to commit to a relationship, say the words: I commit myself to a deep and loving relationship with (name the person). It is also a time to pledge to forgive someone for something that you are feeling hurt about. Say out loud, ‘I forgive (name the person) for causing me to be upset’. Another commitment might be to change your life in some way, such as to join a local voluntary group or campaign for compassion in world farming, any type of activity that requires a sense of love and dedication is suitable at this time. To create a ritual, build an altar by finding some branches with leaf or flower beds and some seasonal flowers and place these under the night sky. Add some herb leaves, such as sage or rosemary and some mementos and photos of those you love. On a piece of paper, take a red felt-tip or crayon and draw a large heart shape and write inside the names of all the people who you love and why you love them. Light a pink or red candle and say: ‘I call upon all the great deities, angels and spirits of love to guide me that I may express greater love for these people listed here’. If you have made a commitment of some kind, you can also place information about your commitment in the heart and say: ‘I pledge myself to (name your cause) and ask that I may be given strength for all I need to accomplish’. Place the paper heart on the altar alongside the lit candle, and meditate for a while. The ‘Whispers of Love’ cards by Angela Hartfield with artwork by Josephine Wall helps attract love and can be used to build stronger and more loving relationships, Angela says: ‘One of the amazing aspects of being loving is that love also supports us. It is important to remember that when we are kind to others, we create more opportunities to show kindness. When others are kind to us, in return, we are motivated to pass that kindness on. Show kindness and bring more love into the world.’
Article by Wendy Stokes. Wendy Stokes 

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