Legacy: Love Is All We Need
We’re just a few days from Valentine’s Day, indeed a Hallmark holiday, but it provides us with an opportunity to focus on the importance of living our love, although we’ve had to create new ways of expressing our love during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We can’t hug our friends or our grandchildren, and for those of us who live alone and are well, that may be our greatest loss. Fortunately, we have technology to communicate our love, and time to write legacy letters of love to our beloveds.
Maya Angelou wrote: “Love is so much larger than anything I can conceive. It may be the element that keeps the stars in the firmament.” And Oprah, said, “I know this for sure: Love is.” Mother Teresa reminded us, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”
Love is complex, multi-dimensional, and multi-leveled: conditional and unconditional, physical, romantic, built with compassion, friendship. There’s self-love, love for other people and species, love of nature and the earth, and spiritual love: of God.
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
– Dalai Lama
Believing his powerful thought, we realize that “love” is a verb, an action. During COVID-19, while we spend endless hours at home, we can’t express our love directly by service (though we can send money to food shelves). We know we love, but often believe that others know it without our expressing it.
Feeling gratitude & not expressing it is like wrapping a present & not giving it.
– William Arthur Ward
What better way to love now than to express it on paper? An almost forgotten art, writing in our own hand to communicate and preserve our love, is what legacy writing is all about. Writing our love is tangible, can be preserved, read and reread, and nurtures our loved ones.
An early filled with love Valentine’s Day to all!
- Reflect in your journal or your meditation about love as you see it, and experience it in your personal relationships, in your community, and in the larger world. Spend no more than 15-20 minutes a day for as many days as it is a fruitful exploration for you.
- Make a list of the people, communities, and things you love.
- Choose one person from your list and write a love letter to her/him. Focus on what delights you about them, and share a specific time or
- story when you felt your love strongly. Express your honest recognition of their lovableness, your authentic appreciation and caring for her/him.
- Especially if you are writing for a specific occasion in her/his life, be sure to conclude your letter with a blessing that expresses your love at this time, and your hopes for them as they move into this new chapter in their lives.
- Return to your journal and write for five minutes about your experience as you wrote about love. (I call this writing “Personal Reflections” or “process notes” and it is often rich with insight and “aha” moments for the writer.
- Mail or give this “legacy love-letter” at the appropriate time. If for Valentine’s Day perhaps with an accompaniment of chocolate.
- Steps 3-4 can be repeated at any time during the year. Expressing love as part of your legacy when received to mark a significant occasion (a graduation, confirmation, beginning a new job, a new relationship, a special birthday, or an accomplishment) will be especially treasured.
May your written words be filled with love, and may they bless all those who read and treasure them,
– Rachael Freed
Rachael Freed, LICSW, senior fellow, Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing, University of Minnesota, is the author of Your Legacy Matters, Women’s Lives, Women’s Legacies: Passing Your Beliefs & Blessings to Future Generations and Heartmates: A Guide for the Partner and Family of the Heart Patient. Rachael can be found at [email protected] and www.life-legacies.com.