Monday, 13 February 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

In the film The Fisher King, there is a short scene between a romantic couple. The woman has been frustrated by her partner’s bad behaviour and eventually he realizes that he was wrong. Instead of apologizing and making some changes, however, he arrives with a big bouquet of roses. When he presents the gorgeous flowers, expecting an easy reconciliation with her, she tears them to shreds before throwing them right back at him. The slapstick surprise is funny, but the viewer feels like weeping at how romantic trappings miss the mark of real love.

Valentine’s Day is the day for celebrating love, real love. 
It is lamentably true that in February some merchants flood their stores with red and pink junk on its way to the landfill, and advertisers desperately try to make couples buy extravagant gifts, but they’re not the boss of us! We have the choice, as we do at Christmas, and Easter, of scoffing at the holiday's commercialism, or of filling it with joyful meaning. 

Today we can find special ways to show how grateful we are for our life partners and our families.Today we have an excuse for surprising a neighbour with some spicy red cinnamon hearts, or for dropping off a friend’s favourite flowering bulb. Search engines make it easy to find pertinent quotes and poems for a home-made card. Who wouldn’t be cheered by an appreciative Valentine from a customer or a colleague?
There are so many who feel uncared for on this day, because they wish they were swooning over a lover who strews red petals along a path to the bedroom. But romance has little to do with real love. If you’ve ever fallen in love, you know that flowers fade fast. Kindness is more likely to have a lasting impact.

The history of St. Valentine’s identity is vague, but whoever he was, the root of his name is helpful when we think about real love. The Latin word, valens, means “worthy, strong, powerful”. Real love isn’t pastel pink and self-indulgent. It is powerfully healing.
Think of a firefighter’s risky love for a stranger trapped by smoke. Think of the parents who stick with tiresome jobs in order to provide for their children. Think of the way an elderly couple support each other as their limitations increase. Think of that friend who babysits your kids. Think about why you make soup and take it to your ailing father. These are strong and worthy acts of real love.

St. Valentine’s famous act of love certainly had nothing to do with romance. Valentine demonstrated his powerful love for God by refusing to worship the Roman Emperor as divine. Valentine was executed for his Christian faith. 
Why would he pay such a price? 
Like other martyrs, he chose to die rather than renounce God, because he was a profoundly grateful recipient of God's love.  He believed Jesus’ astonishing message that God loves us before we ever love God.  Indeed, God’s love for humanity is a bit like the unsentimental love of a rescuing firefighter or a hard-working parent. Whether we love God back, or not, God loves us. We aren't uncared for, today or any other day.

Share the love. Happy Valentine’s Day!