Meditation by Cathy Tamsberg.
Read by Kevin Neiley.
It is rare when the calendar produces an Ash Wednesday followed immediately by Valentine’s Day. We may feel a bit of whiplash as we move from the introspective, penitential nature of Ash Wednesday to an extroverted day when we express our feelings for those we love. The history of Valentine’s Day is obscure, and further clouded by various fanciful legends. The holiday’s roots go back to the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration commemorated annually on February 15. Which St. Valentine is honored on this day remains a mystery: According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there were at least three early Christian saints by that name and all three were said to have been martyred on Feb. 14. The day first became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love developed.
Yet there is a rich opportunity in linking Valentine’s Day to Lent. Yesterday we were reminded that our days are not unlimited. What better reason could we find to tell the people we love how much we care for them? When you ask those who have been diagnosed with a serious illness or otherwise come close to death what they learned, the answers almost universally point to one thing: a deeper, more urgent commitment to the ones they love.
The psalm from yesterday’s lectionary also has a message for us on this day of hearts. Psalm 51 is a prayer that begins: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love…” (v.1a) and goes on to include that familiar petition, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” (v.10) In between, the psalmist requests this: “You desire truth in the inward being, therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.” (v.6)
Lent’s home is one’s secret heart. It is a time for introspection. It is a time for wondering. It is a time for reflecting on who we are in all of our relationships—with the divine, with ourselves, with those we love, and with those we don’t love. May acquiring wisdom in our secret hearts be our goal as we journey through this Lenten season.
This meditation is from “Lent: Sowing Season, Holy Time,” a collection of daily readings by Associate Pastor Cathy Tamsberg. Each day during Lent, from Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013, to Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013, a new excerpt read by a member of the Pullen congregation will be made available. To hear each day’s reading as it is published, subscribe to Pullen’s RSS feed, or listen to the podcast in iTunes.