Why I think Valentine’s Day is best celebrated in elementary school

It’s my middle child’s last year of elementary school, and I have been watching him write valentines for all his classmates. It’s a bittersweet time for me, knowing that Valentine’s Day will never be the same again for him. Soon enough, valentines will be for lovers, and he will know the same idol of romantic love that his culture bows down to. If he is lucky in friendship, he may exchange loving messages with friends or family too. But the form of human love overlooked on Valentine’s Day is one that we could all use more of, and it is the spirit behind elementary school valentine exchanges. 

Community love. 

Community love is appreciating the people we are on this crazy earth ship with, whether or not each individual is our favorite person to be around. It’s the sweet librarian who always says hello and the neighbor across the street who calls everybody in on code violations. In elementary school, you make a valentine for everyone, whether or not you know them well or enjoy their presence. Some kids grumble about having to make them, most bring store-bought candy, and the majority ignore hand-written notes. It can also be a hard time for the kids being bullied, shunned, or overlooked. Community love is messy like all other forms of human love. But there is an opportunity here, a teachable moment for us all. The spirit behind the practice is to look for something you can appreciate about the people around you. Even if it’s that they are making you stronger and more resilient by being your adversary. It’s about gratitude for the whole, even if all the parts are imperfect on their own.

Community problems need community healing. We are each responsible for our own well-being, but we can only go so far alone. When we come together to support ourselves in community with each other, the power of our individual work grows exponentially. 

If you feel a bit disconnected from community love, I am happy to share one of my communities with you. Community Wellness Hour is *free*, and it is an ever-evolving group of people who take time out of their lives to slow down, center, and relax each week. We come from all kinds of backgrounds, but we all come for peace. 

Community Wellness Hour is drop-in, but regulars rotate in and out. When you first arrive (on time or late), you’ll sit down and receive ear acupuncture called the NADA protocol. This protocol is commonly used for addiction as well as general stress recovery. If you aren’t comfortable with needles, we have some cute little beads to wear for acupressure. We sit in silence for the first half hour, meditating or letting the mind go wherever it needs. Then we all go on a little imaginary journey together through a guided meditation. We end with a brief sharing circle, which is all the more authentic because of the quiet we just shared.

I don’t remember everyone’s name. I even forget faces, which I am trying to do better at. But I do feel the love in the room each and every time. It’s different than romantic, family, or friendship love. It’s just humanity, sitting together, doing the best we can. I am grateful for all of it.

Whether you join us one day or not, I hope you feel the love of your community today. You are not alone here. We are here.

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