Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s Day
At first it might seem contradictory having Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day this year – a marking of the start of the season of Lent, often reduced to the idea of giving something up (such as chocolate), and a day that has become synonymous with the idea of romantic love as reflected in consumption (chocolate). And yet, if we think about what Lent and Valentine’s Day are really about, they might not be quite so far apart after all.
Let’s start with Lent. In English, Lent can refer to the church season, but it also connects to an Old English word lencten meaning “spring (the season)” and associated with the word for long, because of the days growing longer. In French, Italian, and ultimately Latin we see connections to the word for “slow” – for those of you who are musical, you just need to think of or lentement (or lente) can mean “slow.” A very similar word, however, comes from the Latin for “lentil” and came to take on the sense of “lens” (I guess this is due to the shape of a lens being lentil-like). So we can bring the idea of a lens, and how we see things, to the idea of Lent as well. Where does this get us?
Lent is a season for slowing down and seeing what is around us.
And Valentine’s Day is a day where we recognize the importance of love – not just romantic love, but all love. The love of friends and family (by birth or by choice), the love of others, and the divine love that rests within and connects us all. When we recognize something we might celebrate it, whether through gift-giving (which is nice but not the most important part of the day), or through words and actions (calling a friend, hugging a child, smiling at a stranger), or through reflection, meditation, and thanksgiving for that love that flows through each of us.
So on this Valentine’s Lent day, I wish you time to slow down, look around, and give thanks for the many varied ways that we experience love in our lives.
Blessings, Rev. Emily Gordon