I have a wall of hearts in our living room; hearts I’ve collected around the world. There are hearts that my family gave me for every week of chemo and radiation therapy. Hearts hammered out of metal, carved out of wood, painted with gold and silver leaf. There are hearts bent and broken and carefully put back together again. One heart’s golden wings spread wider than the wall itself. It is covered in “milagros,” small metal folk charms in the shape of arms for strength, legs for the journey, and hands for compassion.
When someone needs a boost, I take down a heart, wrap it in soft tissue paper, and leave it on their doorstep.
I touch the hearts when I pass by them every day for protection, for luck, for courage. In the most difficult weeks, when it feels toughest to move forward, the hearts challenge me. I’m forced to ask, Can I love my life? Even now?
We need to double down on love if we are going to get through this in one piece. Valarie Kaur calls it Revolutionary Love; the kind of love that dissolves distance and division and builds bridges of unity.
The spirit of this week’s workshops is to bring young women together who have been in their rooms, isolated. We need connection the way we need sunlight and fresh air. Without it, we wither.
When I was young, I was fiercely independent. I thought I should be able to do everything on my own, without help from anyone. I didn’t know then that success on your own is a fantasy. Also, it’s boring. It’s lighter and more fun when we reach out, when we ask for help, when we boost one another up.
One thing worth loving about Valentine’s Day are the hearts and the letters. I don’t need candy or flowers, but give me a heart and one delicious page of your chicken scratch and I am yours.
Reach out. Nothing fancy. Write one short, imperfect letter on the back of a grocery list and drop it in the mail to someone whose existence lifts you up, even slightly. While you’re at it, write your mail carrier a note, and include a gift card, for being the messenger of connection.
Meanwhile, as I write this, someone on my street has been drawing hearts out of chalk on the road and on the sidewalk. Their sight makes me happy. One heart for me, one for you, one for the stranger who feels unheard, unseen, unloved. There are enough to go around.