In creative play/ life is good/ poetry

another way to do february 14th

I’m not a big fan of “Hallmark Holidays” – Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and yes, Valentine’s Day.

I don’t like feeling pressured to pour my heart out on a designated day in order to prove my filial love to parents, or my passion and love for my partner.

When defending this perspective to friends (who tell me that this position of mine is a variation on the theme of “bah-humbug”), I say: if you’re not telling your beloved that you love them and making a fuss with little gifts/cards/surprises at other times during the year, then showering them with cards, roses, and chocolates (the holy valentine’s trinity) on February 14th is just a larger version of peer pressure. (bah humbug)

But then, a few years ago, I learned about a Valentine’s Day tradition I could get behind, and I’ve been playing along ever since. Started as a community project in my former home of California (of course) and designed to promote peace (which is the capital L kinda love in my thinking), the Valentine Peace Project involves giving flowers (with poems attached) to complete strangers (or people you don’t have intimate relationships with: like the guy who makes your latte; the one at the dry cleaning place; the folks who clean your office) in an effort to open hearts and bring awareness to that “let-it-begin-with-me” idea of peace.

You don’t need flowers – postcards, note-cards, and slips of paper work fine too. The point is to spread the love, compassion, and delight.

If you’re so motivated … here are a few poems you can print out, attach to flowers, or jot down/slip into cards on February 14th.

(actually, why not any day? wouldn’t that be positively fabulous?)


Even after all this time
the Sun never says to the Earth
“You owe me.”
Look what happens with a love like that.
It lights up the whole sky.
~ Hafiz

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
~ Mary Oliver

The time will come
When with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you have ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
~ Derek Walcott

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.
Until now
~ David Whyte

We have not come here to take prisoners
But to surrender ever more deeply
to freedom and joy.

We have not come into this exquisite world
to hold ourselves hostage from love. Run, my dear,
from anything that may not strengthen
your precious budding wings,

Run like hell, my dear,
from anyone likely to put a sharp knife
into the sacred, tender vision
of your beautiful heart.

We have a duty to befriend
those aspects of obedience
that stand outside of our house
and shout to our reason
“oh please, oh please
come out and play.”

For we have not come here to take prisoners,
or to confine our wondrous spirits,
But to experience ever and ever more deeply
our divine courage, freedom,
and Light!
~ Hafiz

Today like every other day
We wake up empty and scared.
Don’t open the door of your study
And begin reading.
Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do
There are hundreds of way to kneel
And kiss the earth.
~ Rumi

Love, like a river, will cut a new path
whenever it meets an obstacle.
~ Crystal Middlemas

Ring the bells that can still ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.
~ Leonard Cohen

After the long weeks
when the heat curled the leaves
and the air thirsted, comes
a morning after rain, cool
and bright. The leaves uncurl,
the pastures begin again
to grow, the animals and the birds
rejoice. If tonight the world
ends, we’ll have had this day.
~Wendell Berry

Valentine Prayer for Peace

Peace rain down upon the earth
Strong and sweet
Quenching the fires of
War, Lust and Envy.

Love rise up from the soil
Clean as dew
Touching the breath of a new day
Holy with kisses
For enemies
No longer.

Joy wrap arms around this world with
Sisters and brothers
Hugging hard hearts soft
Breaking bitterness, shame & fear
Tears no longer

Kindness whisper loudly in our ears
And deafen weapons to silence.
While anger is still
Until we
Only hear
~ Anna Mosby Coleman

If you have any favorite poems of love and peace, please drop a line, I’m always happy to learn new awesome poems. And maybe I’ll use it next year. 

And finally, because it’s my blog and I’ll post this if I want to …

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  • wesley roberts
    February 14, 2011 at 4:38 am

    Beautiful poems, all of them. The dry cleaning guy might think you have a ‘thing’ for him.

    And … even though you poo-poo this holiday … Happy Valentine’s Day!

    XO – W

  • Marilyn
    February 15, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    i don’t like all of the manufactured, commercial holidays either. sharing poems, thoughtful gestures, random acts of kindness is much more appealing. every day.

    • debcooperman
      February 22, 2011 at 7:32 pm

      Yes indeedy, Marilyn. Happy February 22nd to you; glad you’re on the planet doing your thing. 🙂

  • Mary
    March 11, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Hi Deb,
    Another take on how to turn February 14th into a celebration? It is my sister’s birthday and our wedding anniversary. I can ignore consumerism and fall into the full blown delight of family and the love of my life. Never, ever, ever let the mad, mad, world of consumerism run our world.
    Peace :> & <3

    • debcooperman
      March 11, 2011 at 4:51 pm

      Mmm, delish and amen to that. Thanks for checking in Ms. Mary, she of fabulous writer babe-ness and rhyming rhythms. 🙂