DEAR Europe,

We’ve been together for a long time and we in Scotland have a declaration to make. We are not of one voice but of many and we know you understand that better than most. It is one of the things we love about you – your broad understanding, your respect, your tolerance. The ability to unite where we need to and still each have a voice of our own. We both compromise – the art of negotiation is the signature on our pact. We will come and go. Mountain and valley. Flood and desert. Blue sky and grey. There is always a way.

We have explored you for centuries, Europe, sent our people and welcomed yours. We have wrapped our tongues around your words, my love, and made new words together. Built ships. Flown planes. Raced cars. We sent you our whisky in exchange for your wine. We’ve learned and we’ve taught. We’ve listened and we’ve spoken. We’ve been inspired by your brilliance and touched by your elegance. God, Europe, you are beautiful.

For decades now, we’ve kept a peace that would have been incomprehensible 100 years ago. We are both old enough to know that peace is not perfect but it is so much better than what went before. This seems a strange thing to say on St Valentine’s Day in a love letter to you, but what we have is not some ideal but a reality. A work in progress, day to day. Life upon life. Give and take. Imperfect. Passionate. It is both where we come from and where we’re going. Love is not an idyll to be attained but a debate. A journey. A road to be travelled.

The National:

We, in Scotland, do not seek a parting of the ways. In youth, people love perfection – flags and glory. In maturity we love that we can grow together. That we can trust each other. That individually we can shine. We are bound by a tangle of fragile blossom, strong on the vine.

We want to thank you for your sisterhood. And, yes, brotherhood too. For letting us lead and helping us follow. For admiring our power and ministering to our weakness. For sharing our vision. We have our history and that has value.

There is so much that joins us – so many people who don’t see boundaries but see bridges. We have the opportunity to talk of dreams and make some of them real. You helped us make changes that raise up all of us. You stood up for us. And soon, we hope we will have a chance to stand up for you, to raise our voices and say that we choose to belong.

So here we are, in front of you. Not only a country but a community, which is a country at its best. We live in times of change and challenge. For all our troubles we must not forget there are millions with less than we have, and some of those worse off because of our decisions.

Today of all days, let’s declare that love is not a noun but a verb and swear we must take action. We are ashamed not to have helped more. And we in Scotland are sorry. We want to shoulder your troubles as well as your joys, for that is the nature of love. Not to become one, but to be many and together.

Dear Europe, we are past our spring days now and in autumn light, low and bright, we stand side by side on the threshold. It’s not what we planned. In gentler times there’d be less hope. The view is a riot of richness, fog rolling, leaves turning, moss like velvet on the stones and that bright, southern light, yellow as butter. You have brought wine. We have brought whisky.

We raise a toast, “One for the road,” we say. The cork sucks uncertainty from the air. Leeches it. The glug is an anthem. The world never seemed set to swallow us till now. And with so much to give. We dreamed it differently, my dear. And now it might gulp us whole.

There was a time half a century ago, for better or worse, when Paris was a different city and Berlin built a wall, when we had more and knew less. Yet, here we are, we few, on the threshold. And Europe, now as much as ever, we love you.

Sara Sheridan is a best-selling Scottish writer and author.