I’m in the middle of a book called The Conditions of Love by Dale M. Kushner which feels completely appropriate for Valentine’s Day. A novel set in the Midwest of the 1950s, the story follows Eunice, a girl whose parents never married, whose unconventional mother is not in possession of many parenting skills. What gets my attention most in this story is the way Eunice thinks about her mother’s love or lack thereof, as well as the love she craves from her absent father. Being in the middle of the book, I don’t yet know how Eunice will later define romantic love for herself. Somehow, that definition feels like the least important one in Eunice’s life.
Which leads me to what I’ve been thinking about for Valentine’s Day. I am incredibly lucky to have a partner who has been with me for many years, whose ideas about love and romance and loyalty are a pretty good fit with mine. Do we go all mushy on Valentine’s Day? Not really. We do go to dinner at a nice place, have fun giving goofy Valentine cards to our kids, bestow treats upon each other. And I do like the idea of a day that celebrates love.
Christians who also observe Ash Wednesday may have their Valentine’s Day celebrations shifted a bit this year. For the first time since 1945, Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day. I read an article yesterday about that in The New York Times (Eat, Pray, Love: An Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day Dilemma). Given that St. Valentine was a martyr, it seems like it might be a nice fit: a religious observance on a day that honors a saint who defied Roman authorities to help those who wanted to be married (depending upon which St. Valentine legend you believe – more about that HERE). What bigger love is there than to be a martyr for something passionately believed? To offer your life – not to take one, let me be very clear here – so that others might have a better one?
What I wish is that St. Valentine’s Day celebrated all kinds of love. Love for all family members. Love for friends. Love for neighbors. I know that isn’t what the day is set up for, nor is it in keeping with the story about St. Valentine performing secret marriages. And it isn’t in sync with the massive Valentine’s Day market that has evolved for cards, flowers, candy, jewelry, and more.
But is in sync with what it is to be human. To crave love in one or more of its many forms that sustain us all.
Happy Valentine’s Day no matter who you are.
images courtesy of Pixabay.com