Happy No Harm Day
Be devoted to one another in love. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. – Romans 12:10, 17 (NIV)
Today is Love Day, sentimental and sappy, romantic and raunchy, corny and commercial. And if Valentine’s is your thing, I wish you luscious chocolates, velvety roses, and kissy-face love that lasts forever and a day.
Not everyone loves Love Day, though, often for reasons too painful to describe. And if that’s you, I hope today’s mush isn’t too hard on you, or on anyone else for whom love isn’t a many-splendored thing.
Which isn’t to say that celebrating starry-eyed love is bad, just that it glosses over the hard bits. Maybe we need another day to honor love’s less giddy aspects: Love Through Gritted Teeth Day, maybe?
Or better yet, No Harm Day. Because, honestly, that’s where a lot of us land on the love scale in these divisive days, clinging to the bottom rung of love, barely managing to fulfill its minimum requirement to inflict as little harm on others as possible.
Refraining from harm-doing, harm-thinking, harm-saying—it may not be what most people think of as love. But isn’t it at least a nod in love’s direction whenever someone says, “There goes a human being who’s burdened enough without my piling on”?
No, it’s not everything, but trying not to pile on might be just enough to get us over the line on the Last Day when, as St. John of the Cross writes, we’ll be examined on love, and love alone.
Enthusiastically loving my neighbor would be best, of course; but oh Jesus Christ, some days not harming them is all I can manage. Bless it, please. It’s a start.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.