Yesterday Sr. Wantabee gave devotions to a memory care unit. She chose the story of Valentine. Ten little ole ladies lined the front row, ranging from age 101 to considerably younger (can 85 be considerably younger?), with two older men and a woman half coherent with her gerth spreading across a wheel chair.
We started by singing songs about love and heads started to nodd. 101 was already asleep on the couch. I quickly switched to the story. Around 300 AD a little girl was born blind in ancient Rome. She was thought to be cursed because of her limitation. Eyes opened. Also the emporer Claudius decided that soldiers could not be married because they would be thinking about their wife and children rather than war. A blind girl going for water and drunk soldiers celebrating the feast of Lupercalius in Rome. A drunk soldier grabbed the blind girl and said, who could love someone cursed by the gods and was going to whip her. (My arm went up in the air as this is a story dramatizeable.) Valentine, also at the water place, reached up and grabbed the soldier’s arm and stopped him. “This girl deserves to know that God loves her.” The soldier quickly replies, “What god? You’re not a Christian are you? You know what happens to them!” He takes the blind girl’s water jug and drops it so it is broken to pieces. Silence by all.
The girl Theodora, goes home to tell her father, the jailor, there is a god who could love her. Valentine goes to the woods to perform the marriage of a soldier to a maid, Lydia, in his household. Soldiers break up the wedding and arrest the servants of Valentine but leave him free and carry the servants to jail. Theodora and father are called to receive the people and close them up. Theodora’s job, as a blind daughter, was to carry a bag around that criminals dropped their valuables into – their “accursed crosses.”
Theodora runs to tell Valentine at the fountain. He ponders how to send a message to them. Could he write a note she would deliver? No, she would be killed if caught. But she could carry a verbal message. Valentine ponders about a token to show it was from him. Kids running in the square knock Theodora so that she spills red ink on some parchment for sale. Valentine’s question is answered. He takes the piece of red parchment and tears out hearts. (I take a piece of blue paper I found in a trash can and tear out a big blue heart.)
The hearts and messages are delivered but the news comes that the soldier and wife will fight the wolves in the collesium. Theodora tells Valentine. He goes to the jail and offers for a nobleman to enter the theatre in exchange for all the slaves of his household. Deal. As he enters the arena, he prays for Theodora to know God’s love and at that time her sight is returned and she sees the red heart with a glowing cross in it. SO, today we give hearts to friends a Valentine’s Day.
Hearts remind us of LOVE. I did an acrostic on LOVE. What does L stand for? Listening, leaning, loving. What words that start with O remind us of love? We came up with “open.” When people cross their arms and growl, we do not feel loved but when then run to us with open arms and hug us we feel loved. V is for visiting. When we visit with each other at meals we show love. E is for encouragement. When I say to to Ms 101, I believe in you, you can do it, she feels love.
St. Valentine’s Day: Love: listening, opening, visiting, encouraging. Reminding everyone, God loves you with all your baggage.