The trappings of Valentine’s Day are upon us: candy hearts stamped with love notes, arrangements of scarlet roses and Babies Breath, chocolate-covered strawberries, intimate candle-light suppers, passionate verse, engagements, and so much more.

Within the buzz of this intoxication, however, few remember the third-century priest, martyr, and saint, Valentine, whose feast day Catholics celebrate on February 14. His work with Christians so vexed the Roman Emperor Claudius II that he sentenced him to death. Before his execution, however, he passed a note, signed “From your Valentine,” to the blind girl he had healed while in prison.

But are there more to such heart-quickenings than the observance of Valentine’s Day with its profane and sacred rituals?

What about those moments of blinding beauty enmeshed within riotous colors of a sunset hugging the wintry horizon? Within a newborn’s discovery of her mother’s nipple and latching onto it? Within piercing lyrics found in “A Simple Song,” from Bernstein’s Mass (1972)?

Like a natural sea sponge with a dense cell structure, the serene heart absorbs such subtle energies that enlarge its world; it sees afresh and thrives. From such heart-quickenings, we sense the Presence in our depths who loves us into our next breath. We can’t help but be grateful.

 

Advertisements