The Revd Peter Crumpler, a Church of England priest in St Albans, Herts, and a former communications director for the CofE, considers romantic love.

You do not see many Zimmer frames, wheelchairs or hearing aids on Valentine’s Day cards. They mostly seem to be full of young love, hearts and roses.

Young love is wonderful and beautiful, full of optimism, and plans and hopes for the future.

But love in later life is precious too. It is a love that has been forged through years of shared experiences and joy, maybe raising children together, perhaps enjoying grandchildren.

It’s a love that’s stood the test of time, and deeper, much deeper, than any shop-bought Valentine’s Day card can describe.

That long-term love can also be shown by the devoted wife or husband who visits their spouse in a care home each day, gently talking with them when they are, perhaps, deep into dementia. Or sitting for long hours by a hospital bed. Or dutifully caring for them at home.

Love is a marathon, not a sprint. It starts with white lace and promises and grows over the years.

Mature love is about the commitment that spans decades and is seldom shown on the cards on sale in the High Street this Valentine’s Day.

As a priest, when I marry a couple and take them through their wedding vows, I hear them make their lifelong commitment “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part…”

It’s so wonderful to see the bride and groom smiling, and enjoying this precious moment, making vows that will, hopefully, span the rest of their lives. I love taking weddings – it’s an immense privilege to be part of a couple’s special day.

And I find myself pondering what the future will hold for them. I wonder what shape that lifelong commitment will take, as I pray a blessing on their marriage.

How much wealth or poverty will come their way? Will it be sickness or health that will accompany them through the years? How will they support each other as the years go by?

‘Love is patient. Love is kind.’ These are familiar words from the popular wedding reading in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. That patience, that kindness are qualities that can develop over years of marriage.

Just how much patience will be needed in the years ahead cannot usually be known on the wedding day.

So, this year, as I look at the rows of red or pink Valentine’s Day cards on sale in the shops, I shall look out for cards that have a deeper message.

I shall seek out cards that celebrate long-term love. Cards that say something about the joys and challenges of growing older together.

Cards that go beyond hearts and roses to the deeper love that transcends love’s first blossoming. I just hope I can find some…

Source : Parish Pump

Photo : The Graphics Fairy