And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:13)
This tree made me smile.
I’m not sure what made me look at this tree other than I’m always looking around while I’m running to see if there is anything interesting. Just below this tree is a small creek and I was noticing how the water still looked frozen in spite of the warm afternoon. So I was already looking in that direction and it just caught my eye. That tree has a knot in the shape of a heart! How cute is that? I snapped two pictures of it and continued my run. Further up the road I started second-guessing myself – I’m not the only one that sees the heart, right? No. It’s completely noticeable. I think….
So of course, the first thing I did when I got home was show the picture to my six-year old daughter. I was careful not to give any prompting:
Hey sweetie, come look at this picture.
“Aww how sweet is that??”
My husband walked in.
Do you want to see my picture?
He smiles. “oh that’s neat.”
Ok. Good. I’m not the only one.
I wish it wasn’t February for this picture because I feel like it takes a sweet picture and turns it into high-fructose corn-syrup sweet. It’s not even Valentine’s Day yet and we’ve already had to walk through the grocery store aisles of chocolate hearts for 6 weeks. It’s hard not to revolt against all things heart-shaped when you’re already drowning from this Hallmark Holiday.
Valentine’s Day was a lot more fun in elementary school. There was a party. You got little candy hearts that taste like chalk. And you handed out goofy cards that were sealed with heart-shaped stickers. Plus there were the pre-Valentine’s Day crafts with lace and construction paper hearts. What’s not to love about Valentine’s Day?
And then you get older…and Valentine’s Day is this depressing singles awareness day. Or if you are in a relationship there is this pressure to be ultra-romantic for a day that kind of means nothing to your relationship. Isn’t that what your anniversary is for? I guess for me the entire “holiday” just gets kind of cheesy. Maybe I’ve seen too many romantic comedies. What it comes down to is the old truth, You can’t buy love.
A heart on a tree. What could be more iconic than a heart carved into a tree with initials? But this time there are no initials. This heart wasn’t carved. It grew that way. It is a scar on the tree where it grew around an injury or some other damage. The more I look at this picture, the more I see a beautiful reminder of what Christ did on a tree. His body was broken and blood poured out. Love on a tree. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). And when he rose on the third day, see his hands and feet, scarred by the nails. That’s a true Valentine – one that will never be packaged and sealed, bought or sold. It is a free gift. And now, “we love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).