Well, the flowers have pretty much faded, the cards are away and the candy has, for the most part, been eaten. Another Valentine’s Day gone. I admit to some fascination with Valentine’s Day. It has always seemed one of those Hallmark days where you are expected to “do something”. Now, some of that has changed with grandchildren (for whom will do anything and flower them with sweets and gifts). But, this year, I could not help but think about that fleeting idea and ideal of love and what it means to us as we grow older.
The subject came up twice in recent days. Once in a class I was teaching on ritual creation for our new life stages in longevity and once within the context of an interview that will soon be posted on www.jewishsacredaging.com, as part of our on-going Conversations project. In both cases, the idea of the power of love as we grow older was the subject of some conversation.
The conversation revolved around the fact that love was so powerful, so necessary to us as we live and grow, that its’ deficit produced powerful emotional and physical illness. And, it was not necessarily “romantic” love. It was the need for a sense of intimacy, of companionship, of relationship. Many rabbis, myself included, teach the Heschel notion that we are creatures who need to need and need to be needed. Many of us know the emptiness that results when one spouse of a long term relationship passes away. Many of us know that sense of loss when a friend of long standing years is no longer there for us and with us. No matter how good that health care worker may be, there is nothing more powerful that that familiar voice, that loving touch, and often that quiet kiss that brings a sense of wholeness to our lives. What’s love got to do with us? Everything!
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.MIn