Instructions for Valentine's Day

First: let's find a stranger. 

Second: let's love her, love him. 

Hold the door for the rushing woman as if it were the very work we were put on this earth to do. 

Without flash or pomp, let the man in line behind us go ahead of us. Perhaps even buy his newspaper and cheese danish. 

Ask the cashier how she is. Listen without opinion or expectation. Only the full willingness to hear her as she's always hungered to be heard. 

Make a donation in honor of everyone feeling lonely today. Or anyone named Louisa. Or the woman who helped us with our luggage at LaGuardia four years ago. 

Bring in someone's trash cans. Sand someone's sidewalk. Buy a bunch of lilies and leave one flower on all the cars parked around us. 

If none of that feels right, silently wish the next stranger you see well. Wish her green lights, good food, a loving place to call home. Wish him thick sweaters in the storm, generous friends, contentment in his body. Wish it with such strength of love that that stranger can't help but feel your blessing. 

Then this. Or perhaps first this: find the stranger parts in us, the parts we don't understand, don't welcome. The wounded parts of us. 

And love them. Love them as we would love a hurting child. Love them as the teachers we never asked for. Love them without expectation or opinion, only the hope that we can heal them as they need to be healed. 

Instructions for Valentine's Day. Instructions for Any Day. 

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