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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

Shortly after Ground Hog's Day comes another holiday, that though it feels quite different in our culture, has similar origins in Imbolc and pagan culture. Valentine's Day is said to be the time when birds pair up with a mate.

For Educators or childcare providers: To celebrate Valentine's Day, I've played a game our homeschool co-op loved. I would read a story about St. Valentine's life and death. (I have
included the story below even though I didn't compile it.) After I read the story we would play a game similar to Don't Wake the Dragon, where Valentine's sleeping (blind folded) guard would sit at the head of a big room. Three valentines (only one of which was from St. Valentine, the others were gotchas that earned a jingle bell, explained below) in identical bags were placed beneath the guard's chair. The players had to sneak up and grab one of the bags without being heard. The referee freezes the players when the guard points. (Make sure the guard keeps the blindfold on.) An identified child is sent back to start. Then the referee unfreezes the players. Winners are given the option to be the next guard or select a substitute. When someone who has won is sent back into the competition they must carry a jingle bell on a string to handicap them.  The game ends when everybody has had a chance to be the guard. The kids loved the game and begged for it year after year.

An attempt at relationship humor: You know you're with the wrong person when they double dip in your sauce, leave behind a bit of chewed food then pretend they don't know anything about it. Then when called to task for it, try to dig it out with another piece of chewed food and drop that in your sauce as well, then have the nerve to say, “It's not my problem.”

Or maybe you've done this and you're the wrong person who double dips and splits leaving the goods behind and are really glad love is forgiving.

A Poem: What Is A Heart?

It is a fleshy pump that moves blood around and around your body.
It is the lacy, many edge-ed, doily-ed thing that you give in an envelope to your friend, crush, lust or obsession.
It is a hard sugary inane message.
It is the shape of a box of chocolates to bribe your significant other or significant other wannabe.
It is the shape little girls make above there i's and j's.
It is the shape of a day on the calender once a year.
Yes, it is all of these things... and no. These are but pale imitations of a heart.

Really, a heart is the center of matter.

It is a baby's first sound. It stand as the background for all music. The beat that begins and keeps 
     time, there in the womb. Here in the world. The start all. The beginning of consciousness
     for each of us.
It is that which we give away, (wait a beat) and in the giving ties us to the gifted.
But like that legendary golden horse sold for a mint that the seller knows all along will always
     run away from the buyer to return to the seller each night, we find our hearts each morning
     there in our breast beating for us. But if we are faithful to the commitment we made, each 
     morning when we find it beating for us alone, we gift it again...
Once more tying ourselves to the gifted, over and over again in a web of strings that can never be
      parted, forming something we call love.

St Valentine's Story used for the game mentioned above:
Let me introduce myself. My name is Valentine. I lived in Rome during the third century. That was long, long ago! At that time, Rome was ruled by an emperor named Claudius. I didn't like Emperor Claudius, and I wasn't the only one! A lot of people shared my feelings.
Claudius wanted to have a big army. He expected men to volunteer to join. Many men just did not want to fight in wars. They did not want to leave their wives and families. As you might have guessed, not many men signed up. This made Claudius furious. So what happened? He had a crazy idea. He thought that if men were not married, they would not mind joining the army. So Claudius decided not to allow any more marriages. Young people thought his new law was cruel. I thought it was preposterous! I certainly wasn't going to support that law!

Did I mention that I was a priest? One of my favorite activities was to marry couples. Even after Emperor Claudius passed his law, I kept on performing marriage ceremonies -- secretly, of course. It was really quite exciting. Imagine a small candlelit room with only the bride and groom and myself. We would whisper the words of the ceremony, listening all the while for the steps of soldiers.

One night, we did hear footsteps. It was scary! Thank goodness the couple I was marrying escaped in time. I was caught. (Not quite as light on my feet as I used to be, I guess.) I was thrown in jail and told that my punishment was death.

I tried to stay cheerful. And do you know what? Wonderful things happened. Many young people came to the jail to visit me. They threw flowers and notes up to my window. They wanted me to know that they, too, believed in love.

One of these young people was the daughter of the prison guard. Her father allowed her to visit me in the cell. Sometimes we would sit and talk for hours. She helped me to keep my spirits up. She agreed that I did the right thing by ignoring the Emperor and going ahead with the secret marriages. On the day I was to die, I left my friend a little note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. I signed it, "Love from your Valentine."

I believe that note started the custom of exchanging love messages on Valentine's Day. It was written on the day I died, February 14, 269 A.D. Now, every year on this day, people remember. But most importantly, they think about love and friendship. And when they think of Emperor Claudius, they remember how he tried to stand in the way of love, and they laugh -- because they know that love can't be beaten!

What kind of things do you do to celebrate St. Valentine's day?

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