Saturday is Valentine's Day and love is in the air.
But what is love? And what does it do to us?
If anybody in the Rim country knows the answers, it's Lee Kennedy, a counselor at Rim Guidance. She's been helping people make the most of their relationships for a long time. And she's in love, herself, with her husband of 15 years.
"The act of loving a person changes the way they look to you," Kennedy said. "If you love a person, they look different to you -- they look better to you."
And in turn, the person you love can change for the better.
"They see that you're seeing them that way, and when they see that, it creates an enlightenment of their soul," she said. "It's like when a teacher loves a child and the child just radiates in the teacher's presence because the child believes the teacher really thinks he's special."
Romantic love, Kennedy said, was invented in the 12th Century, but back then it often applied to someone who was unattainable.
"You have the knights and lords who were leaving behind these fairly educated women while they fought in wars -- sometimes for 10 years at a time," Kennedy said. "This whole idea of what happens in the presence of the loved one developed, this whole fantasy of romantic idealism that inspired poetry and song and the idealization of somebody who was unattainable."
Americans, Kennedy believes, too often expect that kind of love to exist on an every day level.
"There's this entitlement Americans have to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," she said. "So we've taken this vision of love that started out as a fanciful experience and made it an expectation and an entitlement. ‘That's the way it's supposed to be.'"
Hollywood, she said, perpetuates the myth.
"Movies, of course, end at the point where the couple is in love, where the romantic love takes them," Kennedy said.
But if love is to last, another type of love must emerge through a process Kennedy calls "the labor of love."
"Like in the movies, romantic love often happens at the beginning of a relationship," she said. "But then another kind of love takes over. It's what happens between people who mutually respect each other, are committed to each other's care on multiple levels," she said. "A sort of dimensional quality develops that is very strong and allows people to tolerate all kinds of differences."
The labor of love occurs when an ideal inspires us to do the required hard work that keeps a relationship going.
"We think of the other through the eyes of love, which allows us to take the time to do a loving deed, to write a thoughtful note in a card rather than just signing one already written," Kennedy said.
"As a wife, I can wash my husband's car as a surprise. I can stop what I'm doing when he comes home and hug him and tell him I'm glad to see him. A husband can make dinner. He can compliment her appearance in order to be an uplifting influence."
The goal is to allow the ideal of love to inspire the ideal attitude in the practice of love. Kennedy believes we need to heed the famous passage in First Corinthians 13 that is often recited at weddings:
"Love is patient. Love is kind. It is not jealous. It does not brag and is not arrogant. Love does not act unbecomingly. It does not seek its own. Love is not provoked. It does not take into account a wrong suffered. It does not rejoice in unrighteousness. Love rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."
"The hard work of practicing loving is where most of us falter," Kennedy said. "The process of loving is more like labor."
That's where she believes Valentine's Day comes in.
"On Valentine's Day, we have the opportunity to look with renewed vision at a special person ‘through the eyes of love,'" she said. "We celebrate our honored ones with cards, dinner, flowers, verse and compliments associated with love."
Her final thought on Valentine's Day:
"This Valentine's Day we can count our blessings and bless the ones we are grateful to."