It’s St. Valentine’s Day, and so of course it only seems right that today I should write about love. Then again, I feel the subject is so vast, that one blog entry simply won’t do justice to such an immense subject. So I’m calling this Part I, as I’m sure I will revisit the topic many times in the coming months and hopefully years…
Legend has it that St. Valentine went against the law imposed by Emperor Claudius, which stated that couples could no longer marry. Claudius was trying to build up an army of single men and this was his solution but the priest Valentine secretly performed marriages anyway. When he was discovered, he was thrown in to jail. On the evening before Valentine was to be executed, he apparently wrote a card, addressed to the blind daughter of his jailor Asterius, whom he had befriended during his time in jail, signing as "From your Valentine”. And so the tradition of card sending began… Apparently there is no historical fact behind this story, but I do rather like it. A fact I can be sure of as I wrote out my two Valentine’s cards to my husband at 2am this morning, was that this was the 20th time I was sending him cards. Notwithstanding 20 years of relationship, I was still rather excited about creeping out of bed at some ungodly hour to write out some romantic cards…
When I think about what has contributed to the length of our relationship, I would say that romance has certainly been a factor in keeping the love alive. Yes, we love writing little notes to each other – not just on ‘occasion’ days like birthdays and Christmas – but also surprise notes left under sheets or in bags if one of us goes away for a night or weekend away. When I used to head off to Costa Rica for months at a time, I would write lots of little post-it notes to my hubby and hide them all over the house to be discovered over time. One in the folds of a duvet cover in the airing cupboard; another in a wash-bag; another on the inside of a wardrobe, or slipped into a back-pocket of some jeans…And he would do the same, tucking notes inside my bag and clothes. And each note would bring a smile to my lips and a warm glow to my heart and I would know that even though we were thousands of miles apart, he was right there with me surrounding me with his love. Some of our little notes remain stuck in their place even now – we’ve got one on the hall mirror and one inside the fridge. Frequent reminders to keep on loving.
I know it’s all a bit of a cliché to describe a relationship as a garden but it’s the metaphor that most resonates with how I see relationships working. A garden doesn’t need to be perfectly manicured but certainly tending to it, pulling out some unsightly weeds, watering it, feeding it, planting out new flowers and shrubs…all these actions contribute to an amelioration of that space. And so it is with relationships. They need tending to. They can’t be left entirely to their own devices; they are not forests or fields. A garden is something that is cultivated and nurtured, and in return it will bring you delights – it will grow, take shape, and attract the birds and bees.
Valentines Day may indeed have become a big commercial circus demanding our attention for the profits of card manufacturers and Meal-Deals-For-Two supermarkets, and rose clad restaurant tables but I for one think it’s rather nice to have at least one day in the year that celebrates romance and love. Where people make a little effort to express their love. What’s not to love about love? I would simply advocate that you should create romance and include even the simplest of loving gestures all the other 364 days of the year too…
Love puts the fun in together,
The sad in apart,
The hope in tomorrow,
The joy in the heart.