St Valentine’s Day is a wonderful reminder of the importance of love imprinted within our DNA. I have always been fascinated by love – what it really means – what it looks and feels like. I remember as a teenager looking into the hallway on St Valentine’s Day to see if anyone had sent me a Valentine card. It was rather unlikely as I didn’t know any boys. Growing up on the Crumlin Road in the middle of The Troubles meant that I went to school with an armed escort, returned with an armed escort and never went out – except to go to Holy Cross Church Mass. God became a kind of Valentine. Every song I heard on the radio that sang of love – seemed to me, to be God singing to me or me singing to God.
So my understanding of love in the absence of a Valentine’s card landing on the hallway floor – was that love still existed – but that it was mystical and that there was someone, some being that I couldn’t see that loved me and I was drawn to love it in return. I use the word ‘it’ because it was never for me male or female. It was beyond that – it was love itself – not boxed into a human form.
My sisters knew how important it was for me to receive a Valentine’s card. One year they played a prank and sent me a card from an anonymous ‘lover’. I remember being so enthused in opening the card, my heart pounding, believing that someone out there truly loved me and I didn’t know who they were. Hearing my sisters’ laughter, I realised that it wasn’t true. There was no Valentine. Yet that didn’t stop me believing in love.
I felt that we are all programmed for love. In Eden Burning I talk about how this love can be totally buried within a world of distortion and hatred but it can never be ‘extinguished’. We can never stop breathing love because it is our essence. Eventually in Eden Burning the most twisted of characters are capable of recovering this centre of being.
In The Secret Wound, my second novel published in June of this year by Urbane Publications, I continue to explore the hidden nature of this love. The novel is set in two locations – Belfast and Soller – Mallorca. The expat community circle on the surface of life until within a dramatic 40 day lens – their world is transformed – the surfaceruptured and the characters fall into ‘love’ – seeing the world as it really is for the first time.
This week, in New Zealand, it was moving to see the love which inspired human beings to save hundreds of beached whales. That reveals our DNA for love. Yet the story also shows us how our thinking mind can fail us – for some it was an act of compassion to blow the suffering whales up, to slit their veins so that they would bleed to death or to drug them - all in an attempt to minimise their suffering. Yet the high tide came and Nature swept most of them out to sea.
In The Secret Wound we discover the distortions of love which human beings are capable of creating through the twistedness of past pains – their secret wounds - inherited or inflicted through personal choices. Yet we discover the flow of love which moves through the expat community despite their efforts to dam it. It is a wave of love which destroys and renews.