Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love—usually romantic love. It can be fun to share in the festivities, to mark the day with gifts and other sweet sentiments.

I like Valentine’s Day—in large part because of my sweet tooth—and look forward to it every year. It comes at a good time when Christmas is a memory and Easter and springtime feel far away. There’s a lot to enjoy about Valentine’s Day, but if I could, I would change a couple of things.

First, I would make it more inclusive. Valentine’s Day can be fun for folks who are coupled, a celebration for those who have an abundance of love and connection in their lives. But of those who don’t—the lonely, the grieving, and those who are separated from their dear ones for one reason or another—Valentine’s Day can be little more than something to get through. What if it could be more than a celebration of romantic love? What if Valentine’s Day were really for everyone, a way to bring the perfect, limitless love of God into the world?

Second, we would keep the feeling and awareness of divine love going for more than one day. Just as gratitude is too important an aspect of spiritual living to be contained in a single day such as Thanksgiving, so, too, is limiting something as important and life-affirming as love to just one day.

Bringing Love to Lent

This year presents an opportunity to keep our love going beyond a daylong celebration. Next week, Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday are happening on the same day. Valentine’s Day may last for just the day, but the Lenten season is only beginning. Now is the perfect time to set an intention for Lent. Consider this sentiment from the foreword of Charles Fillmore’s Keep a True Lent, by Unity minister and author Georgiana Tree West: “We must learn to deny our selfish impulses and be obedient to impulses of brotherly love.” West then expounds on the idea of fasting and feasting, telling readers to “fast from criticism and condemnation and feast in brotherly love.”

Practicing this kind of love is a lovely intention for Valentine’s Day and a wonderful idea to take into the Lent, a powerful opportunity to do some deep spiritual work in preparation for Easter. Imagine what fasting from criticism and condemnation could do for your mind and heart. Imagine how much lighter you would feel by freeing yourself of harsh judgments and instead seeing others through the eyes of empathy and understanding. This kind of fast would create the space for feasting on brotherly love, honoring the impulse toward compassion and kindness. This is how we can keep the spirit of Valentine’s Day alive after the flowers wilt and the chocolates are eaten. This is also how we can make our Lenten practices about more than just our own spiritual cleansing and growth.

Next week, enjoy the greeting cards, the candy, the flowers, and a day filled with love and romance. But don’t stop there. Take your love into the Lenten season and feast upon the acts of compassion and service that will bless every heart they touch.

About the Author

Rev. Teresa Burton is editor of Daily Word® magazine. An inspiring writer and dynamic speaker, Burton brings clarity and fresh insights to spiritual Truth. Before answering the call to ministry, she worked for more than 25 years as an editor in various capacities in print and digital publishing.


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