“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach…”
The above quote is an excerpt from Sonnet 43, a famous love poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning found in her Sonnets from the Portuguese.
It was a piece written during her courtship with fellow poet, Robert Browning, whom she would wed in spite of her father having forbid her to ever marry.
This inspiring love story began with a letter from Browning offering praise in admiration of her writing. Elizabeth, an invalid whose sickliness had kept her confined to her room for many years, seemed to gain strength from her correspondence with Browning and, in September of 1846, they were joined in marriage during a secret ceremony with only two witnesses.
Though she was disinherited by her father, the couple built a happy life together. They moved to Italy and both continued to write with much success. They even had a son when Elizabeth was 43 years old. And when she died in 1861, it was in the arms of her beloved Robert.
“Their romance, which she would eventually credit with saving her life, lasted for fifteen years and spawned some of the world’s most beautiful poetry.” (History.com)
With Valentines Day approaching, this story has inspired me to write a letter to my husband. One of the best gifts we can give our spouse is to tell them how much they mean to us. To shower them with words of heartfelt admiration. To “count the ways” we love them.
If you are single or divorced, you have probably found that this time of year is also good opportunity to share your appreciation for the loved ones in your life – a close sibling, parent or other relative who has always been there for you. Or maybe there is a special friend who has been a great support during tough times.
No matter who or where you are, we all have a need for love. To receive it and to share it is a blessing from God, the Author of Love, whose love letter to humanity is written on the pages of the Holy Scriptures.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3a
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentation 3:22-23
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Isn’t it wonderful how God expresses His love for us through His word and also through other people?
I recently came across a box of letters I’ve kept over the years. The sweet notes from my Mom, now gone, brought tears to my eyes. Encouraging cards from old friends made me smile. And the tender words from my dear husband overwhelmed me with gratitude for all the joy he brings to my life.
Today, my simple pleasure is reading love letters. And, now…I believe it’s time for me to go write one of my own.