I’m sure that I should wax eloquent regarding this day set aside for lovers, but I’m drawing a blank. I went back and read my post from Valentine’s Day last year to see if I could glean any ideas for yet another treatise on our annual trek through the sentimental terrain of the day. Nothing. I had no idea of what to talk about a year ago, either. You see, for all my introspection, all my analytic brooding, I am still no good at the mushy stuff.
I am, after all, a mere man; not given to romantic gestures, save occasionally. I am also a cynic, believing that this date is nothing more than a once relatively obscure holy day, dedicated to an equally obscure saint named Valentine. Truth be told, there were two men by that name designated as saints by the early Catholic Church, neither of which had any connection whatsoever to romantic lore or history. It is only in the last century that stories have been made up to turn the day into one with connotations of romantic love. The cynic in me believes the hype to be a conspiracy by the commercial concerns which stand to gain financially by the widespread celebration of the fake holiday. And, do we spend money on the day!
I remember one Valentine’s Day, many years ago, when a young man, nervous and anxious to impress his young fiancee (she was only seventeen that year), went out and spent every dime he could scrape up to buy a piece of jewelry for her. Even though it meant that there would be no romantic dinner (not even a Number 3 Burger with Tots at the local Sonic), he spent the extra couple of dollars it took to have her initial engraved on the gold-plated stickpin. It wasn’t even real gold! Regardless, the gift was eminently successful. The young lady was duly impressed, or at least appeared to be, and the fact that there was no romantic candlelit dinner went by without comment. After that, the stickpin could be seen frequently, pinned through the lapel of her jacket or on a scarf worn around her neck, to the lasting enjoyment of both the beautiful young lady and the bumbling young man.
I stole the stickpin out of the young lady’s jewelry box tonight so that I could photograph it for you. She was not happy. It’s not a thing of beauty anymore. The shaft is slightly bent (from a too thick jacket lapel), the edges are showing wear (gold-plated, not solid, you remember), and the clutch is not even the original one. She doesn’t wear it much, since such trinkets have fallen out of fashion. But, the Lovely Lady is not through with it yet. The cheap little piece of costume jewelry has value to her still. Though no sane person would ever offer anything for it, she would not part with it for money. I promised to return it before I go to bed, later. It’s a promise she will hold me to.
This not-so-young man is gratified to realize that the years have not tarnished the feelings a bit. There have been many months of February which have passed since that one so many years ago. Most of them have passed with little notice. And, what of flowers, chocolates, or romantic meals at favorite restaurants? Those do come frequently, but mostly on other days of the year. The cynical resistance to the commercialism of the day is shared by both of us. Yet, not a day goes by that each of us doesn’t verbally remind the other of our love for them. We show it in untold ways, too. As always, I get the better end of the deal. She doesn’t complain and even insists that she is content with her part of the bargain. I believe her, although I still can’t understand it.
You know, if you’ve read many of these posts, that I am unashamedly in love with that same young lady who received the cheap little stickpin all those many years ago. It’s the way marriage is intended to be. The world around us tells us differently. Even the celebration of romantic love on just one special day a year is at odds with the reality of what true love is. Although we know deep down that love is a way of life, and not an emotion, we continue to live for ourselves, selfishly insisting on our way and on our own pleasure. By our selfishness, we deny that love is exactly what God says it is. What we think love is is so far from the truth of love that it resembles it not at all.
Whew! For not having anything to say on the subject, I’ve dived in headfirst, haven’t I? Okay. Preaching is done; I’ll step down from the soapbox once more. Besides, I’ve got to get that stickpin back in the jewelry box before morning…
Let love increase!
“Love is: patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not proud. Love doesn’t: dishonor others, seek its own way, become angry easily, keep a record of wrongs. Love takes no delight in evil, but rejoices in truth. Love always: protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. Love never fails.”
(I Corinthians 13: 4-8)
“Let the wife make the husband glad to come home and let him make her sorry to see him leave.”
(Martin Luther~German theologian and church reformer~1483-1586)