I’m often curious about the true meaning of holidays, beyond the commercialism and promotions of our popular culture. In researching the origins of Valentine’s Day, I discovered there was more than one guy named Valentine. There were at least three martyrs named Valentine who were killed for helping Christians in one way or another. One romantic legend suggests there was a priest named Valentine who secretly helped young lovers get married against the law set by the Roman Emperor, Claudius II.
Now Valentine’s day has sent us scurrying about buying cards and candy or flowers, and perhaps going on a romantic date with our sweetheart. But what if you’re not in a romantic relationship? What if you’re not even close to having one of those? It can feel a bit lonely. I remember.
During my five years of celibacy, I decided to make Valentine’s Day about more than romance, unless you count romance with yourself. Can you have romantic love with yourself? It depends on how you define romance. One definition is: a love affair. Why not be in love with yourself? Not in a narcissistic way, but in a nurturing way. In those dry spells, when I felt lonely, I bought myself flowers and learned to say, “I love you,” in the mirror without feeling silly-though feeling silly is not always a bad thing. One Valentine’s Day, I even got myself a massage. This kind of nurturing self love is, I believe, a prerequisite for a healthy relationship with some one else. I had to learn to love myself before I could be ready to love and be loved by my soul mate.
There is also nothing wrong with using Valentine’s Day as a reminder to express platonic love to friends and familial love to siblings, parents, children and even our dogs who love us so unconditionally.
Which brings me to God. God and dogs love us unconditionally. See the sweet video by Wendy Francisco at http://www.godanddog.org/
This kind of love is often called Agape. (pronounced Uh-gop-ay).
Allow yourself to feel that love from God. Let it comfort you like a soft warm blanket…… or a gentle healing light that touches the top of your head and flows gently through your whole being as you breathe slowly and deeply. Opening to the peace and comfort of agape might take practice. But know this: God is really good at this kind of love. God loves us no matter what. Forever. That doesn’t mean God is going to give us what we want when we want it. Like a loving parent, God knows what we need. And, as I’ve learned, God has perfect timing.
Let Valentine’s Day be about what ever kind of love you want. Let it be about every kind of love you want. Remember to include yourself in your circle of compassion.
For another perspective on the day of love check out this post on Wilmington Faith and Values: