Make Valentine’s mean something. Make it about big love.
Around Valentine’s Day in Namibia, I taught an English lesson using the story of St. Valentine. It wasn’t until today, on my way to class, while I was wracking my brain for something to talk about, that the story came back to me and I realized what the story was really about.
In case you haven’t heard the story in a while, Valentine was a priest in Rome. During this time, soldiers were not allowed to be married, as it might take their energy away from the army. Valentine believed in marriage and decided to help soldiers marry their ladies in secret. He also continued to preach Christianity, even though it was against the law at the time. For this he was thrown in jail.
In prison, Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. The girl was blind, and it is said that he healed her blindness. They fell in love. Before his death, Valentine sent a letter to his love, signed “From your Valentine.” Thus, the sending of cards to those we love on the holiday held in his name (although it was not associated with romantic love until the 19th century).
The love story is sweet. Star-crossed lovers and all. Romeo and Juliet would be proud. The love between Valentine and the jailer’s daughter is only half the story, though. Valentine was not made a saint because he loved a girl. He was made a saint because he had Big Love.
Valentine went to jail for believing in Big Love, God’s Love, the greater love, collective love, whatever you wish to call it. He went to jail and died to spread love. He practiced Love, wide and deep. He quietly protested that which he felt unjust and paid the consequences.
On this Valentine’s Day, we have a chance to practice Big Love. We have all tapped into that bigger source of Love, maybe in a romantic relationship or through the birth of a child, or just seeing a particularly beautiful sunrise. Tap into that source of love today and share it with a stranger. I challenge you. What can you do today to bring about the spirit of St. Valentine?