My friend Pedie Wolfond is a gifted and talented artist. She’s part of a modernist tradition called “abstract expressionism.” She uses colour and light to to express her feelings and emotions. Mostly, Pedie wants people to feel joy, happiness and love when they reflect on her paintings.
In fact, she has a whole series of paintings that consist of just hearts. Bright, bold, beautiful, colourful hearts .
Pedie’s intention with her “Heart Series” is: “to create more love and more kindness in this world. It is my wish that you will feel joy and happiness as you look at these hearts and share with others a desire to love and be loved.” (Pedie Wolfond, Introduction to “Find Your Heart”, 2011).
Pedie’s hearts are displayed in hospitals, galleries and homes all over the world.
She has published two books with her images, called “Find Your Heart.” Each two-page spread contains an inspirational quote, across from one of her heart paintings.
Pedie’s motto is simple:
- live live to the fullest
- care about friends
- smiles are like sunshine
- remember to give back
- cherish those you love
- create from your heart
- count your blessings
- giving makes the heart sing.
I was thinking about all of this as we approach February 14th – Valentine’s Day. A day of hearts and flowers. A day when the hype in the media tends to make people who are not paired up seem to be left out.
Valentine’s Day has it’s origins in Christianity. St. Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. Eventually it did evolve into the occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering candies, sending cards.
Even though Valentine’s Day is Christian in origin, the concept of “love” is a very Jewish concept indeed. In fact, we even have a Jewish Valentine’s Day on our own calendar! It is called “Tu B’Av” – the 15th day of the month of Av. This was a spring-time day of matchmaking for unmarried women during the time of the 2nd Temple before it was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 AD.
Now, Tu B’Av is celebrated much like our own Valentine’s Day, dedicated to romance, friendship and LOVE.
As we approach February 14th, I think we need to view the concept of “love” more broadly than just as a day devoted to romantic love. If we do this, February 14th, Valentine’s Day, will be more inclusive and not so exclusive. We can look to our Jewish tradition as our guide and model.
How is “love” viewed from our Jewish tradition? Here are a few examples:
- In the V’ahavta – we are commanded to LOVE God,(V’ahavta et Adonai elohecha);
- Torah is a symbol of God’s love for us;
- Husbands and wives love each other (in the creation story in Genesis, we are told that a man leaves his mother and joins with his wife). And then, further on in Genesis, this is explained in the Isaac and Rebecca story (Gen 24:67): Isaac took Rebecca and she became his wife and he loved her.
- In the Book of Ruth, we see the ultimate love of a widowed daughter-in-law, for her widowed mother-in-law, when Ruth says to Naomi, “For wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people; and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.” (Ruth 1: 16-17)
- And probably, one of the most famous uses of the word “love” is from Leviticus: V’ahavta l’re’echa ka’mocha: Love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18). This is known as the “Golden Rule”.
Love takes many forms: There’s romantic love, love for parents and children, love for the others who live in our midst, and love between the Divine Presence and ourselves.
“With loving hearts together, we can create a better world.” –Pedie Wolfond