Amid the flurry of pressure to buy presents, amid the drippy pink and red decorations, amid the healthy protests of those who either have no significant other or cannot be with them on theday, amid all this, it's easy to forget why we celebrate the Feast of Saint Valentine.
All of Saint Valentine's deeds are not known, though we do know that he refused to deny Christ before Emperor Claudius, and also that he healed the daughter of his jailer of blindness and deafness. Beyond that, his actions are unclear, and when Pope Gelasius set up his festival in 496, he described him as one of the Martyrs "whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God."
But isn't that what Love is? And I'm not speaking only of romantic love, I'm speaking of love in all its forms. When we love someone, we gladly make choices and tiny little sacrifices they may never see, but we will know. Like when you put the forks in the dishwasher head-down even though you know they don't get as clean, because your roommate likes it that way; or you spend 2 hours waiting in line to get a book signed by an author you don't care about because your cousin wants it; or when you painstakingly re-create your mom's favorite meal so she won't know you burned the first batch.
I am blessed to count many people I love dearly today. People come and go from our lives, but they always leave handprints on our hearts, and we leave our own in return. In fact, I think St. Paul had some very eloquent things to say on the subject:
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never dies."
And it's true. I can honestly say there is a piece of my heart that still loves every person who's ever touched it, because love is not finite. It grows and changes and deepens with each person with whom it is shared. That is why, despite any shadows on my soul today that love unrequited, lost, and unanswered has left, I can say with a joyful mind and a hopeful heart: Happy Valentine's Day.