- At the Desert Retreat House -
Today is Valentine’s Day.
In the past I never paid all that much attention to this particular holiday. In fact, when it came to celebrating Valentine’s Day, I was sort of cynical about it all. Flowers, candy, cards and candlelit dinners in a fancy restaurant – one more opportunity for corporate America to make some extra cash by marketing another artificial “Hallmark Holiday.”
But, I’ve begun to change my thinking. In fact, this year especially, I have come to believe that Valentine’s Day may actually be an important holiday for all of us to celebrate.
Over this past year people everywhere have been inundated with strident words and ugly images of conflict and and fear. The social media has been on fire with unrestrained, vulgar personal attacks in this contentious political climate. The news has been filled with stories of violence, terror, reports of a resurgence of racism and prejudice. In fact, I have come to the point where I can barely turn on the evening news and I hardly ever browse the social media because I almost can’t bear all the bad and ugly stories and I am getting very weary of having my senses regularly assaulted by all the nasty tweets and snarky Facebook posts.
Sometimes I feel as if our “spiritual” air has been so polluted by all the hate speech, insults and fear-mongering that our very “souls” are being slowly poisoned. The problem is that we have breathed this poisoned air so long that many of us have gotten used to it and are no longer able to discern just how rancid it smells - that’s why I think a holiday like “Valentine's Day" may be so valuable for our spiritual health.
On this day people all over America (and in many parts of the world) send out a different kind of energy into the spiritual atmosphere. Today people will hold hands and embrace, speak gentle words, they will send flowers, give cards and have intimate dinners with their special “valentines.” It’s almost as if what happens on this day provides somewhat of an “antidote” to all that poison we have been consuming in such large doses over this past year.
I am reminded of one of my favorite Zen wisdom sayings:
I play with flowers and the fragrance clings to my clothes.
Instead of wallowing in the foul-smelling muck and mire that has been polluting the atmosphere, today people play with flowers and the sweet-smelling fragrance of the flowers freshens the air and clings to our clothes.
This morning as I glanced at my Twitter feed and browsed the Facebook posts, in addition to the expected bad news I also saw all sorts of good news. People were sending out tender greetings to their “loved ones” and everywhere I looked I saw pictures of flowers and images of hearts as the word “love” permeated the atmosphere.
Maybe we need to celebrate Valentine's Day more than once a year?
Happy Valentine’s Day!