Valentine’s Day…Not Always Hearts and Flowers  

As I am writing this, I am overjoyed by the love that surrounds me. I’ve been wanting to rearrange my office for some time now, but the timing was never right. When I walked into my office on Monday, it was perfect! Shannon and her daughters, Kiera and Audrey, had spent the weekend moving heavy furniture around, just to show me that they love me. Another display of love was brought to my attention when I learned that one of our crew here at Women’s Edition has a son who is recovering from kidney surgery. He donated his kidney to his mother-in-law. The Greeks would call this “agape,” which means a love that is selfless and charitable. 

In an article in Sojourners, Roman Krznaric states that there is growing evidence that agape is in a dangerous decline. Empathy levels in the United States have declined sharply over the past 40 years, with the steepest fall occurring in the past decade. We urgently need to revive our capacity to care about strangers! We can do something about that by starting to see the needs in our society and acting on them. 

A great example of agape in action is Big Brothers/Big Sisters. This organization connects kids who need a good role model in their lives with adults who are dedicated to being there for them. My son, Adam, and my daughter-in-law, Sally, are involved with this organization in Boise. This year, Adam was named Big Brother of the Year in the Southwest Idaho chapter. I’m proud of them because of their selflessness...their agape. 

There are many different kinds of love. The Greeks have at least six different names for it. The one that comes to my mind first on Valentine’s Day is “eros,” of course—romantic,  passionate, intimate love. The Greeks felt that this kind of love showed a loss of control, and that idea is still reflected in our language. We “fall” in love. We are “crazy” about someone. We may expect that special someone to fulfill us somehow, wherever we think we are lacking. This can be dangerous! It’s important to love ourselves.

If we grew up in an average home, we were told “no” or what we could not do more than 148,000 times in our first 18 years of life. Your brain believes what you tell it. Let’s tell our brains that we are capable, valuable people who can make this a better place to live. 

This month, we celebrate Kurt’s birthday and, possibly, the arrival of his second son, Kaeden, (my second grandson). He may be a leap year baby! Babies have their own timelines, so we will see. My prayer is that he will be healthy, no matter when he decides to get here. We will try our best not to fill his head with 148,000 “nos” in his early life. We’ll let him and his brother, Mason, know that they are loved and that they can do anything they set their minds to.

I love you all. I think you know which kind.

Anita Howarth,


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