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Hours ago I was up. It was still. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I had an appointment to keep. Before the humdrum of the rest of the world, before any lights (except mine of course), artificial or otherwise drove away the predawn colors, I was determined to get a leg up on the day. This day is special. Or is it?

Now, I hear the rest of the world. The sun is shining a bit brighter. I see the leaves on the trees swing to the tempo of the gentle wind. And I can’t wait to catch a whiff of this special day’s wind. Today is Valentine’s Day. I want to smell the fragrance of love.

I have been hearing, “love is in the air” for several days now. For some reasons, I’m curious about its scent. Now that this day is here, I’m sure the aroma is thick in the air! Surely cards, flowers, and chocolate in its different decadent forms are going to be elevated to a high status in the world of commerce today.

I have nothing against chocolate, cards or flowers. If today is the only day one receives flowers and chocolates then it is a pitiful demonstration of love. This leads me to take a thinking look at the definition of love.

Most of us have unfortunately embraced a much distorted concept of love.  Captured here is how Dr. Dobson puts it;

 “The confusion begins when boy meets girl and the entire sky lights up in romantic profusion. Smoke and fire are followed by lightning and thunder, and the dazzled couple finds themselves knee-deep in what may or may not turn out to be true. Adrenaline is pumped into the cardiovascular system by the pint, and every nerve is charged with 220 volts of electricity. Then two little couriers go racing up the respective backbones of the boy and girl and blast their exhilarating messages into each spinning head: “This is it! The search is over! I’ve found the perfect human being! Hooray for love!”

Personally, I enjoy the mushy, teary eyed, blushing, heart-throbbing ‘I-love-yous’. But Love is more than just that.

The measure of love is being able to willingly lay down one’s life for another. This means more than just dying for someone. It includes sacrificing your best for another. Forfeiting the best in the interest of another. Real love contrary to popular notions is an expression of the deepest appreciation for another person; it is a passionate awareness of his or her needs and longings for the past, present and future. It is not self-centered, rather generous and caring. And these are not attitudes one just “falls” into, as though tumbling into a trench.

The popular culture with the help of the entertainment industry misinforms people about the meaning of love. It is important to know that the exhilaration is not always present, that people will not be perfect and that maintaining a good relationship requires a huge amount of selflessness, giving, forgiving, and patience.

So, enjoy the chocolate, savor the aroma of the roses and do well to remember that, the only lasting fragrance of love is God’s, demonstrated by those who truly choose to become unconditional delivery systems, consciously gushing all over you even when you don’t deserve it.  Not only on the 14th day of February but 365 1/25 days a year!