What lies at the heart of love?

Today is a day about the heart, one set aside to celebrate love of all kinds — love shared among couples, families, friends, our neighbors, even our classmates.

Boxes laden with chocolates, fresh cut and colorful bouquets, shiny jeweled trinkets and, of course, roses in every color and number will be showered upon the people we most love in the world today, the tokens of our affection, offered as we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day.

In its most commercial sense, it’s a day that millions of dollars will be spent to express emotions that, quite frankly, we should express every day of the week, whether there’s an occasion to do so or not. Whether it’s a simple “I love you,” a tender card of remembrance or a more lavish gift, most of us, however, have chosen Valentine’s as the day to pour out our hearts to those dearest to us.

And there is nothing wrong with the celebrations. In fact, we applaud them. Anytime one can, and will, show love to another is laudable.

But today, as we examine love, we turn to a deeper sense of the emotion, one shown to strangers.

This week, it was that deep, giving type of love we witnessed as members of the Western Union Missionary Baptist Association began to amass bottled water and wet wipes to deliver to strangers some 800 miles away.

In an article in Thursday’s Sampson Independent (and in a follow-up article appearing on today’s front page), it was reported that the 15 Missionary churches in the Sampson Community have teamed with Liberty Praise Center in Sanford to collect water for the people of Flint, Michigan.

By Wednesday, eight of the 15 churches had donated toward the cause; the seven others are following suit, showing love and concern for their fellow man. Mid-week, some 250 cases of water and another 80 cases of wet wipes have been donated, with the numbers expected to rise by this weekend.

Flint is under a state of emergency because of lead-tainted water, and people across Sampson, seeing the need, have reached out a helping hand, showing love hundreds of miles — and several states — away from home. The hand up they are providing is to strangers, with no thought of receiving anything for the expression of deep love they are extending.

To give and not expect return, that is what lies at the heart of love.

“Flint is a community and this is what we’re supposed to do as churches anyway. Anybody that is able to give we encouraged them to give,” said the Rev. Bernard Spates, 2nd Vice Moderator for Western Union Baptist Association and the one who spearheaded the Sampson effort.

Whether as a church family, as an individual or as part of your own giving family, extending help to another is the greatest show of love one can give, be it Valentine’s Day or any other day of the week.

We applaud church members within Western Union for their willingness to open their hearts and their wallets to help their fellow man, offering their heart in a very real and personal way.

Their actions, and so many similar actions we witness across Sampson on any given day, are what makes this county special. For whether it’s Valentine’s Day or any other day, residents hear are willing to show their heart, giving to others without expecting anything in return.

Now that’s real love!