The annual commercial jamboree of twee sentiments, chocolate overload and wilting red roses is almost upon us.
Across the western world, forlorn teenagers, dejected singles and unhappily marrieds will be dreading tomorrow's dawn.
Poor beleagured Valentine, martyr at Rome now suffering again as the occasion for so much pain and disappointment - and an anxiety among the happily-yoked, that their expression of love might not, somehow, be acceptable to the beloved.
Oh dear, oh dear.
It's a day when expectations can so easily be dashed...When breathless teenage hopes that "he loves me" might after all be the final verdict of the daisy's petals crumble as "he" walks past without a backward glance, when the arrival of the gas bill as sole offering on the doormat seems a deliberate cruelty.
Even the postman is committed to making the un-coupled feel more solitary.
And still the media hype continues.The local press is stuffed with adverts for candelit Valentine's dinners.Tables for two are de rigeur...
Against that tide, let me set two celebrations of another sort of love. Today says facebook, is FREE HUGS DAY ... rather a lovely idea, really, though I'm not sure it would be quite as welcome in the Co-op at Cainscross as it will be amid the student communities that my children inhabit.
But nonetheless, readers and friends, please consider yourself freely hugged.
And, (it was this that led me to begin these ramblings in the first place), the blessed Henri Nouwen does it once more.Listen as he celebrates....
Words That Feed Us
When we talk to one another, we often talk about what happened, what we are doing, or what we plan to do. Often we say, "What's up?" and we encourage one another to share the details of our daily lives. But often we want to hear something else. We want to hear, "I've been thinking of you today," or "I missed you," or "I wish you were here," or "I really love you." It is not always easy to say these words, but such words can deepen our bonds with one another. Telling someone "I love you" in whatever way is always delivering good news. Nobody will respond by saying, "Well, I knew that already, you don't have to say it again"! Words of love and affirmation are like bread. We need them each day, over and over. They keep us alive inside.
While hearing those words from a friend or a child might not satisfy the romantic excesses of the serious Valentiner, they are more than good enough for me.
And, PS, I love you.