Our recent celebration of Valentine’s Day has got me reflecting about love. I am recalling a class I taught to high school students over 40 years ago. The course was titled: Literature of Love and Loneliness. What I learned most from my students was how confused they were about what love actually is.

  • They understood love as a desire: “I love chocolate ice cream” or “I love playing hockey.”
  • They understood love as fondness or affection: “I love our dog” or “I love grandma.”
  • But they didn’t have a firm grasp of love as action. Their knowledge of the action of love may have been influenced more by Hollywood than anything else.

In light of our Wellness Wednesday message last week on scotoma, like my students, we can have a blind spot about what love really is…especially the kind of love that all human beings need to thrive.

Scott Hayden, an American composer of ragtime music, once said…

Hayden’s quote suggests something about the action of love. Love unites. Love brings together. In this case, learners and learning. Teachers make this happen.

More than 2,500 years before Hayden, Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

By the action of love which unites, loving and being loved causes a meaningful change.

  • How do we know we are being truly loved? We become stronger.
  • How do we know we are loving? We grow in courage.

We are being loved if we are growing in strength and growing in courage. We are more strongly becoming the person we are meant to be. We are more courageously speaking with the voice that comes from within.

If we are not growing in strength, if we are not growing in courage, then what we are experiencing is not love. No matter what we are feeling, it is not love. And to believe it is so is to experience scotoma.

Whatever the source of love in our lives, whether we are being loved by another person or being loved by our self, it will always result in our growing stronger and more courageous.

Let’s reflect on how we can love:

  • Our children or students so they become stronger and more courageous.
  • A family member or friend so they become stronger and more courageous.
  • Our self so we become stronger and more courageous.

Thank you, Scott Hayden, Lao Tzu, and others who have shown us something true about the action of love.

From my Valentines…Kevin Brennan, Tom Cody, and Willow Sweeny…who are committed to making me stronger and more courageous.

Paul Bernabei


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