The lyrics keep running through my mind. Something like, “spring fever, love is in the air.”

I’m pretty sure spring is nowhere near but here in these past few days love seems to be everywhere.

The stores are full of hearts and cards, stuffed animals and chocolates in all forms and sizes and if you haven’t done your shopping yet you’re late because the count down is here.

Mr. Webster defines love as an intense feeling of deep affection, warmth, fondness or an endeared attachment.  One can love Mexican food, baby kittens, thunderstorms and your spouse.

Supposedly, love is that attraction that makes us happy.  I love puppies, a soft summer rain, and a glass of wine and real country music.  I love my kids, good books and fast cars.

And yet, love, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  My definition of love has changed from how I experienced and defined it at sixteen years of age.  There seems to be a fine line with each of us as to how we perceive love to be.  It’s all in your interpretation.

As I thumb through millions of cards at a local store searching for that special one that adequately expresses what I truly feel I’m more certain than ever that love has absolutely nothing to do with red decorated cards with hearts, stuffed bears, white roses and chocolate covered truffles.

Love is your mom’s hand on your forehead caressing your brow as you struggle with the flu and your dad’s hug when you walk in the door an hour after your curfew.  Love is forgiveness for an indiscretion when the look alone brings you to tears and you don’t apologize because they can read your thoughts and know your heart.  The movie said something about, “Love means never having to say you are sorry!”

Love is the pride and joy that comes when the toddler takes his first steps or the engine that turns over the first time and idles like the well-oiled machine it truly is. Love is fine wine and a kiss at midnight or the warm muzzle of your horse as he nudges you to hurry with his evening meal.  Love is someone offering to relieve the driving when you still have eight hours on the road and a warm cup of hot chocolate as you shed the parka and mittens and head for the warm crackling fire. 

Our definitions and experiences vary, to each his own.  And yet, I can’t get past what Jesus taught about the greatest commandment being to “love one another” and to “love others as I have loved you.”

Sometimes I think our world has forgotten about love. Oh, it is true, we preach a good line and the stores sell out on Valentines Day but situations and circumstances have clouded our perceptions. We are afraid to love, to be vulnerable, afraid we will be used, manipulated and perhaps discarded. 

I hate that concept because in its most honest and purest form love cannot be defined, copied, bought or manufactured.  It can only be felt from the heart in the most inner deep recesses of our souls.

Love makes us vulnerable.  Love shocks us sometimes. Love asks us to take chances and love beckons us to give it another try.  And when it’s there and when it’s for real nothing can measure up or take its place.  For to love is to give all you’ve got expecting absolutely nothing in return and always knowing it was the right and perfect thing to do. And the longer love lasts the more valuable and priceless it is.  Nothing is more precious or felt more deeply.

It’s more than words can express but from my heart, I love you and God loves you more. Happy Valentines Day!

Melinda Clements is an E-T community columnist. She can be reached at melinda_clements@centurylink.net.