Valentine’s Day may be the most beautiful holiday of the year. February 14 is a day to celebrate the people in our lives with whom we have chosen to share our hearts. Valentine’s Day is for sweethearts, but it’s even more for lifelong lovers, families, and bosom friends.
It a day to remember why we put up with dirty socks in the bathroom, emotional text messages at midnight, and long hours at work: because we love these messy, broken, unfiltered people. Those are our people, and on Valentine’s Day, we are encouraged to tell them why we love them.
Verbalizing our love for others is a good practice, but often the right words escape us. This year, when shopping for a Valentine’s Day card for my wonderful husband, each seemed bland or generic. None of the cards contained the rich, meaningful love I wanted to communicate.
So I turned from the Hallmark store to the hallmarks of literature, searching the great, thought-provoking writers of history for their wisdom. Surprisingly, these timeless writings contain a fair amount of commentary on love, some thought-provoking, some humorous, and all of it crafted more elegantly than the average greeting card.
So for all of you searching for just the right words to express how you feel this Valentine’s Day, here are a few quotes on love from a few names you might not expect.
1. Cicero, ‘On Moral Ends’
Book II, line 87: “What is Love, from which the Latin word for friendship is derived, if not the wish that someone may have as many good things as possible irrespective of whether any advantage accrues to oneself?”
2. ‘Churchill, a Life,’ by Martin Gilbert
Page 195: Winston Churchill to Clementine Hozier, the future Mrs. Churchill: “I will let you know from time to time how I am getting on here in the storm; and we may lay the foundations of a frank & clear-eyed friendship which I certainly should value and cherish with many serious feelings of respect.”
3. Alexander Hamilton, ‘Federalist’ No. 15
Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice, without constraint.
4. John Locke, ‘An Essay Concerning Human Understanding’
Book II, 20.5: “… our ideas of love and hatred, are but the dispositions of the mind, in respect of pleasure and pain in general, however caused in us.”
5. Plato, ‘Republic,’ Book III
Line 403a: “‘Can you tell of a greater or keener pleasure than the one connected with sex?’ ‘I can’t,’ he said, ‘nor a madder one either.’”
6. Timothy J. Keller, ‘The Meaning of Marriage’
To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God.
7. Calvin Coolidge, ‘The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge’
Page 93: “I have seen so much fiction written on this subject that I may be pardoned for relating the plain facts. We thought we were made for each other. For almost a quarter of a century she has borne with my infirmities, and I have rejoiced in her graces.”
8. Oural in C.S. Lewis’ ‘Till We Have Faces’
Did I hate him, then? Indeed, I believe so. A love like that can grow to be nine-tenths hatred and still call itself love.
9. Thomas Hobbes, ‘Leviathan’
The object of man’s desire is not to enjoy once only, and for one instant of time; but to assure forever, the way of his future desires.
10. Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Enjoy present pleasures in such a way as not to injure future ones.