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Norris J. Chumley, Ph.D. Headshot

Loving Saint Valentine

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Spring is almost here, and love is in the air! Valentine's Day is upon us, hooray!

Valentine's Day, as we know it, is a celebration of love. Love is itself a celebration of others. To love one another is to treasure, validate, hold dear, and to cherish as highly valuable and worthy.

The name of the saint, Valentine, is actually a combination of several martyred Roman saints according to the Catholic tradition. The name, or word, is derived from "valens," or to be "worthy." Interestingly, there is no connection to romance or love in the church celebrations; neither in the Roman Catholic, nor in Orthodoxy (who celebrate St. Valentine on July 6), yet we know about love and celebrate it in the love for one another, and for God.

There are many references and illustrations depicting St. Valentine as someone who helps others, such as children, the blind, and disabled people. Perhaps this is where the connection to love (of others) with St. Valentine begins.

Geoffrey Chaucer wrote of St. Valentine in relation to love and marriage...

"For this was on Seynt Valentynes day,
Whan every foul cometh theere to chese his make [mate]..."
(Geoffrey Chaucer, The Parliament of Fowles, circa 1380)

We are "foul" before we are loved? Before we chose a mate? Is that what Chaucer is saying? All I have to say is that I know love heals, and it's in a relationship of love, intimacy and trust that I grow best as a person. Yes, I am foul and less when I am not loved or loving.

When I give my love, as abundantly and empathically as I can, then love flows back infinitely. Is this what Shakespeare meant when he wrote, "Love goes toward love"? I believe so.

Love is sweet, and kind, but it also has an opposite, for love cannot exist without the absence of love. Just the thought is painful! For what would we do without love? Would we be filled with hate, loneliness, pain and without worth?

Oh God, I cannot bear the thought! Oh God, please love me! Please give me someone worthy to love, so I may be more worthy of Your love.

This horrid and empty possibility is exactly why we need St. Valentine, or a reasonable facsimile to remind us to put aside our self-hate and anger; to cast away the demons of loneliness and pain, and reach for something more; to reach out and love at the risk of not being loved is the highest loving.

So, dear beloved reader - love, love, love! Not just on St. Valentine's day, but every day! Remember love begins with our Supreme Lover, our Creator, God, who loved us into existence, and loves us all ways, always.