Happy Valentine’s Day 2020. Another one. Another single St. Valentine’s day. Father Jim spoke of the story of St. Valentine at mass this morning. Just going to be honest, I don’t remember a whole lot of the details. I looked up some because they’re important. Valentine lived during the reign of the Roman Emperor Claudius who made marriage illegal because he believed woman distracted men from war duties. Valentine continued to spread Christianity and married Christian couples. Claudius imprisoned Valentine and told him to renounce his faith or die. Valentine refused and was executed. It is said he left a letter for the jailer’s blind daughter he had healed on the day of his execution. His last written words, “Your Valentine.”
You used to read Harry Potter to me before going to bed when I was little. I can’t see you reading to me; I can’t feel the warmth of your body as you laid close to me; I can’t hear you tell of the heroics of Harry, Ron and Hermione or try and recite the names of the spells. But I know you did, and I have an unspoken affinity for Harry Potter because of it. The movies will forever be in my all-time favorites. I am struck by the story differently, though, now that you are gone. The death of Lily and the reason Harry survives Voldemort’s curse carry much greater weight. Dumbledore tells Harry many times that love is the most powerful magic, it leaves its mark and is a source of protection for us always.
Little did I know you were speaking that same love over me those nights. Whispering that most powerful magic with every word to protect me. To blanket me with the love my soul longs for, to keep it weary to misplaced loves pretending to be the real thing.
Father Jim spoke of the real thing. He said he asks couples getting ready for marriage if they would lay down their lives for one another. Hearing this phrase, my first thought is always strictly literal, being willing to die for this person to live. Then I think of you and mom. You laid down your suffering to be the dad you wanted to be for Adam and I. Mom laid down her desire for the healthy husband she married to care for her love whose body was wearing itself out. The tangible, day-to-day laying down of your life looks like this. Not just romanticized heroics but messy, tired, frustrating and seemingly unfair asks.
This is the love we all want but at the same time are fearful of. It asks us to be more than we are, revealing the joy and discomfort found in the tension of being and becoming.
Though I am again single on another Valentine’s day, I find I am still being asked of this, more deeply and more abundantly so than any man could. My God who I am first in relationship with is teaching me what this Love is like and as gently as He can, bringing it out of me. In this season of singleness, I am not always grateful for it, but I get to get with God and Him alone. I hope, Lord willing, my man is doing the same. As for today, we both get the realest Love and Him alone.