Had she been alive today, my father’s God-mother, Evelyn, would be celebrating her 127th birthday on Friday, St Valentine’s Day.
I was with her for her 90th in Silver Jubilee year 1977 and yes, she reached her 100th; like you, I’m sure, the 14th is not a date we can forget.
Considerably longer ago than 1977, some historians tell us, Valentinus, a doctor and priest, was crucified for his faith in the early days of Christianity on the Via Flaminia in Rome.
February 14 may have been the day of his martyrdom, so it became his Feast-Day, as it is known in the Church.
Because of his love for Jesus, we have connected that love with our human affections, although the proper reason for St Valentine’s Day being February 14 is because it was originally held to be the first day of spring, and birds chose their mates on that day!
As we know, the day has been captured by poets and writers and you and me, as we remember those we love by giving roses, or chocolates, or something very special.
There are many roads, routes, avenues to offer our love to those we love, to those who need love, to those who don’t know love, to those starved of love – the children of Syria, Egypt, Ukraine, Afghanistan.
Before Mother Theresa of Calcutta died, 18 years ago now, she spoke on television about the hungry of the world, referring not only to the physically hungry but to those starved of love.
In the first week of this year, I spoke with two men who, because of all they loved and all whom they loved, had to leave their home land, one from Nepal and one from Pakistan, to live in Dubai to earn a small amount of money – one as a hotel cleaner, one as a shop assistant – to send home to help their poverty-stricken families, one in the Himalayan foothills and one near Islamabad.
These men’s situations and circumstances remain in my mind as I think of the visit I made in early January beyond Dubai, over a six-day period, to Kabul, to visit the regiment whose padre I was 35 years ago.
There, on February 14, as with you and I here, there will be cherished and beloved thoughts of those we love, thoughts which make us glad to be alive, thoughts of returning soldiers whose love of comrades runs alongside their love of ones at home here in UK.
We remember them in love as they offer their skills and expertise as they prepare to leave Afghanistan. Some, of course, have offered their love of all they hold dear by losing their lives.
There are many sides to love; people we owe everything to as we remember them in love.
St Valentine loved His Lord more than life – what a thought as we send flowers, emails, txts and even a letter on Friday to ? with love from ?
Enjoy the 14th!