It has been a chaotic past three weeks, and given the time of the year, it is not showing signs of slowing down anytime soon. As I look at the calendar for the coming week, I discover we begin Lent on Wednesday. It is also Valentine’s Day this week – a day I used to look forward to very much and felt was always a special opportunity to remember all those I love. Never mind upcoming visitors from the north, the pending tax season, the slated home projects and even the requisite backflow inspection; the daily demands on this caregiver do not seem to be easing any time soon. But observing Lent and Valentine’s Day are priorities – even now.
Lent for many is a time of prayer, fasting, and charity. As I think back to my days as a practicing Catholic it was all about sacrifice, renewing my acquaintance with eating fish rather than meat, and penance and reconciliation. I “gave up” things – usually self-selected habits I already knew were not in my best interests. Later Lent became a time to purposefully get back in touch with God – Lenten devotionals, special projects to “give back rather than give up”, and reflection on the real meaning of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Either way, the forty days of Lent are still a time I value to regroup and better understand the foundation for and importance of my faith.
Valentine’s Day has always been a hearts and flowers kind of day with plenty of mushy greeting cards, red roses, decadent chocolates, and warm embraces with lots of hugs and warmth. Over the past several years it has become far less so – separated from family and just like any other day to my loved one, there is far less opportunity to shower those I love with affection and professed admiration. Still, I have sent brief missives to the grandchildren, red roses with the “LOVE” sparkling decoration adorn the kitchen table, and somehow, I will find a way to add some sweet treats to the day when it arrives. It is still special to me, and likely always will be.
I have made myself some promises in observance of both of these important events happening this week. I am going to make every effort during the next 40 days to move beyond the chaos and specifically seek out calm. If that means giving up certain things to accommodate rejuvenating peace and quiet, that is the choice I plan to make. The method I want to use to reaffirm my faith and relationship with God is to celebrate this beautiful world He has made and delight in all its magnificence – if only for stolen moments here and there. I need to remind myself of the splendor and gift of life.
And this Valentine’s Day the person I am most devoted to reaffirming my love for is me! And I know that hearts and flowers are part of it, but the very best way for me to love me right now is to create those moments of peace among the crazy where I can find rest, and calm, and quiet, and resolve so that I can reenter the chaos.
I realize the two are closely related. My relationship with God requires that I value both of us!
Up for Discussion: How do you plan to observe Lent? Will Valentine’s Day bring anything special and life-affirming to you and your loved ones? Is it possible to make each a priority, and if you did, would you benefit? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.