Dear Siblings in Christ,
It is February. What comes to mind when you think about the second month of the year? There’s the Valentine’s holiday, a big day for romance, florists and chocolate sales. For those of you in the public sector President’s Day is a welcome three day weekend. February is also Black History month. And this year the season of Lent starts with Ash Wednesday on the 22nd. For the shortest month on the calendar there sure is a lot going on.
Those are all things that are worthy of celebration or things to look forward to. February also has a number of significant dates that make this month a mix of celebration and lingering grief for me. My son was born in February and I have been blessed with an amazing son for what will be 26 years. But, it is the first week of the month that brings to memory two of the most difficult days of the year. The 8th marks the 9th anniversary of my first wife, Tracy’s death and the 5th marks the 4th anniversary of my Mother’s death. The 5th also happens to be Tracy’s birthday.
Those of you who have experienced the death of a family member know what those anniversary dates are like. They loom large and serve as reminders of the most difficult days of your life. And over the course of the first couple years of those anniversary dates the feelings of grief were very much a gut punch. The feelings of grief have not gone away, they never will, but they do become more normalized as the years pass and thus less debilitating. At least they did for me.
Why am I sharing these most personal of memories and feelings? That is a good question. Well, I suppose it is because February is the month we celebrate love on the 14th. Yes, I know, it is a holiday that traditionally celebrates romantic love, but that seems to be a bit limited for me. Shouldn’t there be a day we celebrate all expressions of love? Couldn’t that be true for Valentine’s Day? At least for the sake of this article I think it can and should. After all love is the most powerful force in the world. Some have said love is what makes the world go round. I tend to agree with that.
One of the things I have experienced with grief is that in time as the deep, deep sadness wanes gratitude for love, even love that has been lost, grows and grows. Love and grief are inseparable, so that does make some sense to me. Grief would not be so painful if love were not so meaningful. My Mother told me that years ago. She was very smart, one of the many things I loved about her. I miss my Mother and Tracy each and every day, but I would never chose to love less to avoid grief.
Love is a gift from God. I believe that is what makes it the most powerful force in the world and the greatest gift God has ever given us. Love is also limitless. God has given us the capacity to fully love without limit. Imagine if we only had so much love to give and we had to divide amongst a spouse, children, parents, siblings, family and friends. I cannot imagine that when I consider how many people that I love and who love me. Talk about counting one’s blessings!
As eternally grateful I am for the relationships I have and have had, I am most grateful for the love of God. Human love is imperfect and is somewhat conditional. God’s love is perfect and unconditional. It is truly selfless and demands nothing in return. God knows my every thought, everything I’ve ever done, my failures and imperfections and none of it matters or changes God’s love for me. That is something I celebrate and rejoice in every day of my life. I will remember those I loved on the on the 5th, the 8th, the one I love now on the 14th, and my son on the 23rd and thank God for making it possible.
Yours in Christ,Pastor Steve