This day may be difficult for many. Valentine's Day has always come with difficulties: on this day that is designed to celebrate love, many of us may feel left out. We may not have significant others or we may have lost our significant other, or we may have a love that isn't honored by the larger society.
Some of us may feel annoyed by the expectations that come with this holiday. We may not like feeling mandated to spend gobs of money to demonstrate how much we love. This idea becomes even trickier if we have a partner who would really like this kind of demonstration--and what if we don't have the money or couldn't get the right gift/reservation/time off?
In short, this day was fraught, even before the events of last year.
This day is also the anniversary of a school shooting, the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. That event has never been far from my consciousness, since I live in the county where the shooting took place. I don't know if this day will always be a triggering event out there in the larger country.
In this county, people are observing this one year anniversary in several ways. Many communities in this county will observe a moment of silence. Some are devoting themselves to a day of service. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will provide opportunities for students who come to school today; students aren't required to come today. I've heard news coverage that says that many families in our county will stay home and together today, which doesn't seem like an altogether bad way of celebrating Valentine's Day.
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.
We should extend these actions beyond our significant others and family members. Our friends deserve the same level of care. 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 difficulties (and outright evil) that exist in the world, and some weeks this knowledge intrudes more than others. We must be the lanterns that defeat the difficulties and evil.
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.