This February, we have the curious collision of Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, which I believe carries a special spiritual significance. Valentine’s Day is usually thought of as a celebration of love, especially eros, or romantic love. Ash Wednesday, on the other hand, is the first day of Lent in the Christian calendar, the 40 days (weekdays, actually) leading up to Easter when many Christians adopt a period of fasting or abstinence, similar to the 40 days in the gospel accounts when Jesus was fasting in the wilderness. For both of these important observances to occur on the same day, there must be a deeper meaning for us to embrace this February 14th. Maybe, just maybe, we can think of Valentine’s Day this year not just from the perspective of eros, but from the broader vantage point of agape, or unconditional love. God’s agape is the sacrificial love that allows us to look beyond our own desires and needs and beyond the faults and shortcomings of others to see their needs and preferences. Perhaps Valentine’s Day can be a great opportunity to love on our nuclear and extended family members, our co-workers, community members, friends, and strangers. (Jesus actually did teach us to love our enemies, but let’s start with the basics first!) Reflect on how different Ash Wednesday (and the season of Lent) can be this year if you sacrifice yourself by sharing loving thoughts and gestures to many valentines! “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth (I John 3:18, NIV).”
In case you missed my video this morning (with a little Kirk Franklin to set the mood), check it out at https://www.facebook.com/drtonyaarmstrong/videos/348371392331045/.
Also, please be sure to receive my free gift of love to you: a Kindle copy of Blossoming Hope, with songs, meditations, and other treats from the album integrated throughout your reading experience. Don’t have an e-reader? No worries–your iPhone or Android can be used as a Kindle reader in just a few short clicks. See the Kindle order page for details: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077T4P841
Enjoy the rest of this special holiday. Much like the spreading of ashes in the wind, spread God’s love as broadly as you can!
À Votre Santé (“To Your Health”),
Tonya D. Armstrong, Ph.D., M.T.S.