One of my favourite passages records a conversation with the local vicar, who must have found her hard to cope with:
"'Do you believe in God?' 'Yes.'
'Do you know what God is?' 'Yes.'
'What is God then?' 'He's God!'
'Do you go to church?' 'No.'
'Why not?' 'Because I know it all!'
'What do you know?' 'I know to love Mister God and to love people and cats and dogs and spiders and flowers and trees' and the catalogue went on, 'with all of me.'
There's nothing much you can do in the face of that kind of accusation, for that's what it amounted to. Anna had bypassed all the non-essentials and distilled centuries of learning into one sentence - 'And God said love me, love them, and love it, and don't forget to love yourself.'"
This week the shops are full of red and pink - Valentine's cards, Valentine's chocolates, Valentine's drink, Valentine's perfume, Valentine's cuddly toys. It is the one time of the year when love, particularly romantic love, is almost deified, and the many people who are not in a romantic relationship, or who have just lost somebody near and dear to them, are made to feel lacking, and sad, and out of it. Like Christmas, there is only one media message, and if your particular circumstances don't fit, it can be a very painful time.
So this week, I'm going to try to take on board the last bit of Anna's advice "Don't forget to love yourself." We are all human, we are all children of God, we are all worthy of love. And we all need to learn to love and accept our whole selves, not just the bits we allow other people to see.