There is a Valentines Day tent set up in the parking lot of one our local retailers today. They are marketing flowers, candy, stuffed animals, and a wide assortment of heart shaped objects just waiting to be purchased. Valentines Day is big business. I won’t be visiting the tent today. I have already ordered something I thought to be unique and fitting for the occasion.
Valentines Day is supposed to be a day that represents love. Actually I think there is significant history behind the occasion that has some true substance to it, but such meaning has been lost in the shuffle. Now we set up tents and market love. I am of a mind that we should avoid the retail trappings of Valentines Day and express real love to all of those whom we care deeply about. I even have an idea how that can be accomplished.
If we want to show those we care about that we love and value them, it can be accomplished in one simple action. Listen. I mean really listen. Listen without interrupting. Listen with our eyes as well as our ears. Ask good questions and wait patiently for a response.
In recent weeks, I have experienced the power of listening. After listening carefully to the life story of a friend, I was told: “I feel like I have really been heard.” My friend felt valued and affirmed in a substantial way. I was actually surprised and taken back. I had to process that event for several days. I think I had forgotten just how healing a listening ear can be for another person.
A few days later during a conversation over coffee another friend said: tell me about your mom and dad. (My parents have been deceased for decades.) No one has asked me such a question in years. Once again I was taken back. I nearly found myself speechless. I don’t think I responded very well, but nevertheless I felt heard. And at that point I realized from being on the receiving end that being heard is profoundly healing.
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Feel free to go to the tent, if you feel so compelled. There is no shortage of coconut filled chocolates or heart shaped objects to fit any person’s interest. But I am of a mind that a listening ear might very well be the best Valentine’s Day gift you can give the love of your life or a good friend. Your commitment to listening to that person’s story will impact their heart long after the candy has been consumed and the stuffed animal is collecting dust on a shelf somewhere. After all love real love can’t be sold in a tent.