You’ve all seen those photocopied posters with the little tear-away bits at the bottom. More often than not, they’ll inquire about missing pets or stolen bikes or will try to sell you one instead. The little tear-away papers will offer up a neatly typed or hastily scribbled phone number or e-mail address for further contact. Guerrilla personals. A makeshift Craigslist.

A while ago, I came across what looked like just another one of these little posters. Except it was anything but. Now, you’ll have to forgive me, but I can’t for the life of me remember what the poster itself said, precisely. I suppose it could’ve been something like “Free kindness–help yourself below”. Doesn’t really matter. What I do remember is what the little tear-away papers said. Because I read them, smiled, tore one off and have kept it in my wallet ever since (right next to a fortune cookie message and the ticket stub from when I went and saw The Dark Knight in IMAX). The little paper’s a bit dirty and the torn edge barely missed the first letter, but (in all-capitals) it still clearly reads: “YOU ARE LOVED”

No exclamation mark, no period. As if it’s a casual, obvious remark. “YOU ARE LOVED” Of course I am. Aren’t we all? Isn’t everyone in this entire city loved by someone? Don’t we all have mothers and fathers, sisters, brothers, friends and lovers who will care for us no matter what?

Then. A moment’s hesitation. (“No matter what?” That’s a lot of things that need not matter!)

In reality, unconditional love is a very rare thing–like some exquisite, endangered songbird, always near-extinction, save for the grace of a tiny handful of people who actually care enough to keep it alive. I dread to think about those who have never known a love like that–safe and secure, warm and enveloping, comforting. Those for whom every new day is another long and lonely shuffle towards the inevitable outcome of all things.

I sincerely hope they, too, may stumble upon a poster just like the one I came across. I hope they’ll read it, and -for a brief moment at least- realize that someone, somewhere, took the time to make these, out of sheer love for a bunch of people he or she would probably never even meet, let alone get to know. Someone who then put these posters up, just so those people could hopefully see that someone, somewhere wants them to know that they, too, “ARE LOVED”

No exclamation mark. No period.