Love in Action

Gilli, our Learning Officer, invites you to join us in our Love in Action campaign. In the week running up to Valentine's Day, let's share moments of Love in Action we have witnessed - from love between a parent and a child, to love between two strangers.

Valentine’s Day is one of those days I sort of dread. When I was a teenager I dreaded it for different reasons: would my latest crush send me a card? Did he even know I existed? Would he know that the card I sent was from me? If he didn’t know it was from me then how would he know the extent of my longing and devotion?

As the years went by and I married, had children, divorced, married and divorced, Valentine’s day was frequently a pressure point. The day when you felt that a grand romantic gesture was in order but  given that it was frequently challenging to find the romance among the daily business of career building, child raising, dirty laundry and the endless cycle of cooking and cleaning it was often a disappointing occasion falling far below any expectations I might have had.

In case you are thinking that I am being rather dismissive of romantic love I want to put the record straight; I think LOVE IS GRAND. There is nothing in the world that is so exquisite, so all consuming, so joyous and so terrifying as falling in love. I have done it several times and that’s not counting all the crushes I had as a schoolgirl. I grew up in the era of Erich Segal’s acclaimed book “Love Story” which was published on February 14th 1970 when I was 11. It was then made into a tear jerker of a film starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw where we famously learned that “Love means never having to say you are sorry”, which spawned the whole industry of “Love Is” posters, cards, keyrings, and other merchandise as anyone growing up in the ‘70’s will remember well.

Something I have learned as life took many unexpected turns while delivering me my share of happiness, sadness, successes, setbacks and challenges, is that love is less a matter of what we say or don’t say, and more a case of what we do. The first time you say “I love you” to the person who you hope to share the rest of your life with and you wait for what seems like an eternity, not daring to breathe, to hear them reply “ I love you too”, you feel that nothing could ever be more right with the world than it is at that moment. If possible, everyone should get to feel that way once in their life but there are so many more moments we live through where romantic love wasn’t what sustained us and where words alone were not enough to nourish us. These are the moments when love comes in many surprising forms and sometimes from unexpected directions, when actions speak louder than words and where an act of loving kindness can fill you up to the brim when previously you felt empty.

Lockdowns, restrictions in who we can meet and the general lack of human contact are affecting all of us and taking their toll on our wellbeing but more than ever we are finding that small unexpected acts of love  and kindness have the power to lighten our load and bring us joy. This Valentine’s Day, when so many people, particularly those who are feeling lonely and isolated, would benefit from knowing that someone is thinking of them maybe we could think about how to be the love in action which lightens someone’s load.