Saturday, February 14, 2015

Living Valentines

Here's one of those strange feast days, a feast day that's more popular in the general culture than it is in the church culture that pays attention to saints and their days.

To me, this feast day is essentially a manufactured holiday, yet another one, designed to make us feel like we must spend gobs and gobs of money to demonstrate our love.

Or worse, it's a day designed to remind us that others are loved more than we are--and those feelings of insecurity are designed to make us spend more money, a self-medication of a sort.  Or maybe my feelings are just rooted in my childhood experiences in elementary school.  I went to elementary school in the 1970's, before we worried about children's self esteem. If you wanted to bring Valentines for only your favorite five fellow students, you were allowed to do that. So, some people wound up with a shoebox/mailbox full of greetings and treats, and some of us wound up with very little.

I remember longing for a secret admirer, someone who would reveal their tender feelings on a Valentine left in my mailbox; we spent the week before Valentine's Day making those mailboxes out of shoeboxes.

I never had a Valentine from a secret admirer, but I had cards in my handmade mailbox.  Still, there was always a child--or two or three or ten--who would whoop with joy at the unexpected declaration of love.  It was clear that there were others who got more love.

From an early age, it was apparent that I need to spend time focusing on my good luck, instead of comparing my luck to everyone else's. I'm still working on remembering the wisdom a yoga teacher told me once:  "Don't compare yourself to others.  It won't help your balance."  I expect to spend this lifetime always working on this lesson.

People have asked me how I plan to spend Valentine's Day, and I say, "Every day is Valentine's Day at my house."  I say it in a snarky way, so as not to inspire the jealousy of others.  But it does express my philosophy.

Every day, ideally, should be Valentine's Day, a day in which we try to remind our loved ones how much we care--and not by buying flowers, dinners out, candy, and jewelry.  We show that we love by our actions:  our care, our putting our own needs in the backseat, our concern, our gentle touch, our loving remarks, our forgiveness over and over again.

And I'm not just talking about our significant others and family members.  Our friends deserve the same level of care.  And since we often spend more time with our co-workers than with our family and friends, I wonder how we would transform the workplace if we focused on radiating non-sexual love there too.

And then there is the task of caring for the world.  Every week, we are reminded of the darkness that exists in the world, and some weeks it intrudes more than others.  We must be the light that beats back the darkness.

On this Valentine's Day, let us go out into the world, living sacraments, to be Valentines to one another, to bring love into all the corners of the a weary world.

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