A valentine

 Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is my name.”
                                                      Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

Who am I before the face of God? What am I known as? How will God define me as unique and yet as one with all? What is my significant feature in the mind of God? 

I am the remarkable expression of a unique form of love that God gives to the world. Love is the true identity that I struggle to realize, somehow customized in my creation to be revealed in a profoundly different way from the love of anyone else. Love is my real nature. I will only know my true self in the gradual revelation of love that is specific to me. God will know my voice and recognize me through the gentle incarnation of love that is God's truth inside me. 
Love takes on a fresh form in my slow discovery of self. As I share that with the world, my true character emerges. It comes forth through some toil in the self-revelation process. I learn about my true self through growth in selflessness, where I abandon myself and my persistent personal agendas for a greater need and purpose. I develop character lines that shape the contour of my true face, weathered by life but full of wisdom.
Love looks different on me. It shows itself within the daily choices, sacrifices, acts of freedom, and mistakes that I make. My story is made up of many twists and turns that challenge the peculiar refinement of love within me. It is not always clear how love lives in me, but with each breath of the Spirit love has potential. I can choose love, and even if I live it clumsily and ambiguously, God honors my choice to love as valuable and valid. My success at love is not my true identity. My sincerity at struggling to love is my great advocate. 
So love is my name. Could I have any other name when I am created in the image and the likeness of a God who is Love? Could any other approach to life really honor the magnitude of my being if it is not rooted in love? I think not. Love is my core. I care about my world, my life, my God. Love is the nature of who I am. 
Therefore, handle carefully the time you have with me on the Earth. And I promise you this. I will handle with care the face of love I see in you. For love is your true identity, too. You will embrace the world differently from me, but love is your origin and your true form. I respect that unique nuance of love that is yours, and I ask that you see mine, even though at times both of us will find our eyesight blurred by human lack of love.

Take your love seriously, and take mine equally so. And yet in those times of dissonance between us, remember that our differences are bound up in One Love, which unites and reconciles all divisions. Let love be that which binds us yet also distinguishes the extraordinary flow of God's energy within us. 
Great Love of the Universe, I am yours; you are mine. Together we breathe love into the world in a way that is amazingly alive. I need you, dear One, to keep me faithful to the revelation of love within me. I need the love of my brothers and sisters to complement my contribution of compassion to the world. Let my eyes never grow dim in perceiving your love within the human family, and help me to reverence the many forms of love that struggle to unveil themselves in the world.

                                                                                From Meditations with Merton, N. V. Vandergrift, Liguori Publications, 1993