Ah yes, Valentine’s Day. The day when the cynic inside rails against this holiday created for consumers:) Its association with St. Valentine (the name given to more than a few early Christian martyrs) is sketchy. Not much is know of the specific Christian martyr named Valentinus, but Chaucer is credited with launching the romantic meaning of Valentine’s Day after writing a series of love poems that became associated with this day, “”For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.” The High Middle Ages were awash in chivalry traditions used to express courtly love among the social elite and Chaucer’s sentiments caught on. Fast forward three hundred years…greeting card companies begin pushing Valentine’s Day cards in the early 1800’s and the rest is history.
All that said, it is still fun to reflect on the meaning of this Valentine’s Day in the context of marriage and three kids. We live in a household where the domestic duties are in some degree shared. Because of our current employment situations, I am more than fortunate to be able to interact with the love of my life amidst the mundane of everyday life. A constant reminder of love, my wife gladly giving of herself for the sake of others. This usually results in a combination of exhaustion and creativity. Both are expressed in the midst of her interaction with others (namely our children). She is real, colorful, elegant, and tough. Ironically, I find the subtle nuances of everyday love to be the most interesting part of love. There is a “no holds barred” genius in the way she finds humor amidst situations that call for weeping. The author Kathleen Norris calls such unseen triumphs “The Quotidian Mysteries.” It is the intentional practice of everyday love that results in both a confrontation with actual reality (where mind, heart, and body are one) and an unexpected playfulness that is driven to create for the sake of nothing more than the joy of creation. I am experiencing this at this moment as I write and listen to my wife in the other room teaching our girls how to write the word “China”. I am challenged by this. I am challenged by her laugh. It is easy for me to get so lost in finding “a sense of purpose” and “fulfilling obligations” that I, “…lose sight of God’s play with creation, and with ourselves.”
Love is most beautiful when it embraces the reality of the situation then chooses to harness the “Imago Dei” towards sculpting a colorful future for those God has placed right in front of us. Maybe that is why I see my wife as a saint on this day dedicated to love. If the root of all sin is an attempt to avoid reality, my wife is actively pursuing holiness. Love you babe.