Flowers: roses preferred, red especially. Candy: chocolate, of course; dark chocolate ideal. Greeting card: something with hearts, something with heart handwritten inside.

That’s your typical Valentine’s Day prescription that will vary from generic to brand name depending upon what you want your gifts to say to the one on the receiving end. A standard Hallmark card, for instance (with envelope unlicked and nary a personal word save the signature), bodes ill for making it to the next Feb. 14 together. Personal poetry (even a “Roses are red…” attempt) gets extra points. Pearls buy you years of credit during which you can pay off your credit card. (Corollary gifts for the man would be impolitic for me to comment on.)

The things we do for love. But what’s love got to do with it?

Can’t live without it. Love is not a luxury that bonuses some while others do without, as with commodities unevenly distributed on the world’s stage like deodorant or indoor plumbing or a 17th pair of shoes. Nor is love limited to those with a mate. Nor is sex the defining sign of it – lest children, the elderly (some, not all), the physiologically infirm, or the celibate by choice be deprived.

Let’s begin at the top. God is love. The God who makes the world every day does so out of God’s own and only being, which the Bible says is love. So, at the heart of life is love at every moment, since God is at the heart of every moment. When anyone acts in accord with love, therefore, a dance breaks out among the unseen quarks and gluons that must rival Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. When anyone slays or shuns another, dogs with ears to hear such things pick up the groan of creation in its grief.

The God that is love created human beings in God’s own image and likeness. Thus, to love fulfills our nature and not to love destroys it.

The Greeks had four words for love: eros, romantic desire that attracts some to others and not to all; philia, friendship; storge, family affection; and agape, the love that gives itself away to those who deserve it and those who don’t alike.

In the end, the four loves are one love nonetheless, because we are all the more and none the less for any form of love.

Pass the chocolates. Dark, please!