I lean toward melancholy so I love Russian authors, cloudy days, a good drizzle, and Ash Wednesday. These things make my heart sing not because I’m a depressing person, but I find a certain freedom in acknowledging the darkness of life. Resting in darkness allows me to live in the light without clinging to it or pretending like I can control it (I do pull out the happy light every now and then, so maybe there is a little pretending).
Turning the commemoration of a beheaded bishop into a holiday of chocolate and sappy sentiment makes me slightly queasy, so this year feels more appropriate. We don’t know that much about Saint Valentine other than he was probably beaten and beheaded around 269 in Rome, but somehow that got twisted into a day of romance.
I’m not a huge fan of romance. Sorry. It’s rarely a good companion for love, but it is what often leads couples after those first three years of butterflies and passion to end up talking about “falling out of love.”
Romance is defined as “a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love, especially when sentimental or idealized.”
Marriage vows sound something like this:
“I take you
to be my wife/husband;
to have and to hold from this day forward,
for better for worse, for richer for poorer,
in sickness and health, to love and to cherish,
until we are parted by death.”
The church recognizes that love and death, cherishing and releasing are all wrapped up together. Romance tends to make idols out of others; death keeps love in proper perspective.
Don’t get me wrong. Death sucks and is sad, but it is also freeing. We get this moment, this relationship, this life to delight in for the present, knowing we can’t cling to it forever.
We cling to the God of eternal love so we don’t have to cling to our loves and try to make them gods.
• Pastor Tari Stage-Harvey: Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.