This year, we are fast approaching two significant commemoration times within our culture at the same time. This very rarely happens. There may be a special opportunity to see and gain from the synergy here.
Firstly, I speak of Valentine's Day, not because it is the more or less important of the two but because simply, I had to choose one to start. Many of today's emotional surface dwellers don't really realize the true depth of the Day. So, let's talk about the value of this commemoration.
Valentine's Day originated in the spiritual joining of young men and women through a priest named San Valentino. At a time when Rome, in its self-absorbed grandeur, wanted all young men on the battlefield, away from loved ones, without any attachments, it forbade marriage for any soldier. It was believed they would not have a divided loyalty or focus, and so marshal a greater desire to defend Rome. However, Valentino defied an edict against marrying, defending the sacredness of the covenant of matrimony (marriage) and the value of real Love and family, eventually to his own peril. As he expected, later it was discovered, married men fought harder to defend the love of their life and family loved ones. Hence the Sainthood. This is certainly part of God's intention for marriage in any society. There was never any part of the amorous distraction thrust into it like today.
Then there is Lent. Also this year, on the 14th of February, which actually means spring. It's the time when life is released from the coldness of icy winter. When all the seeds of life spring toward the warming light, extending roots to break new ground. Such a change! The word 'spring' has its roots in the words like 'long, elongated or lengthen.' It is said, the plants are lengthened as they grow upward, at a time when the days also grow longer.
All of this explosive flurry in spring is responding to the call of victory over death in the wintry past. The efforts of death, or anything which seeks to deny the healthy existence of life, are thus denied. In Lent, this includes our own preoccupation with comfort, self-indulgence and exaggerated sense of fear for security. Lent is an expression of this same reorientation in spring, a denial of self through a fast. You've heard the expression, "Oh. I'm giving it up for Lent." That's where this comes from.
Anyone who is married, definitely understands denial of self for the life of another, and even more so once children are part of the equation. This is the nature of God. This is not to say others can't experience love for another and maybe even experience God's true Love in sacrifice, for the betterment of another.
In Lent, there is a kind of shaking ourselves out of the 'stuckedness' we experience over the winter. It's a way of challenging death's hold on our spirits, so we can reach for new hope and direction. Accompanying this, in Lent, is the giving of goods to the church, which subsequently gives it to ministries it is connected with to help those in need. Additionally, food banks benefit from this supply to others in self-sacrifice.
Well, when these two purposes conspire, they can truly inspire. Let's look at it.
In Lent, we have the shaking off of the lethargy we have become accustomed to in our cold times in life, those spiritual wintry seasons. Then, in Valentine's Day we have Love defending marriage, family and rightness in relationships to others, and so this way, society. In Lent, our reaching elongates and stretches us and expands our capacity to Love, providing for others. In tandem, it is the arresting of self-absorption and 'if you will' the reaching up to higher goals, as a reorientation of life.