Given that February is the shortest month of the year; I find there are a number of things to write about. Valentine’s Day is of course the standard, and then this year is leap year which adds an extra day to the month. There is also, at least here in the northeast, Groundhog Day, which is also Candlemas Day and then I came across the reminder that there is also the feast day (or month if you live in Ireland) of St. Brigid.
In doing some research on St. Valentine I found there are actually 14 of them, although only one is credited with having anything to do with the holiday as we know it. Turns out there is really very little information about him, the main point being he was thought to have been martyred by Emperor Claudius III on February 14, 269AD, the same day that had been devoted to love lotteries in the roman Empire. There are legends stating that he was a kind and generous man, helping out the poor and needy and also marrying young Christians, against the orders of the emperor, who had decided that young men going into the military were more willing to do so if they did not have a wife, girlfriend, and children. It was his act of marrying them that caused him to be beheaded.
Groundhog Day has nothing to do with Love, at least that I can find. Leap year is the time when a woman can propose marriage to a man (based on an old Scottish legend). Candlemas is a Christian holiday celebrated by the Roman Catholic and Episcopal Church. On this day, people bring candles to church to have them blessed, either for use at home or as a donation to the church for use during the coming year.
St. Brigid, I believe, has much to do with the kind of Love we refer to as Agape, the Love Jesus shared with all. Her life stands as an example of how to live out the command to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul and to Love your neighbor as yourself.” I recently read an account of a woman on pilgrimage to St. Brigid’s well in Kildare Ireland. She tells of 5 story prayers that were told of how Brigid was: a woman of the land; a peace-maker; a friend of the poor; a woman of the hearth; and a woman of contemplation. She came from a wealthy family and there is a story of how her father gave her a horse to ride and she immediately gave it away to a farmer she met on the road. She is said to have created a cross from some rushes on the floor of a house and one can find them today in stores which carry Irish merchandise. They are meant to hang over your entry door as protection from evil and to prevent fires. We have friend who have one hanging over their front door as a sign of welcome and peace.
May you find time to share your presence with loved ones this month. May you find time for some silence and solitude, as you listen for what God has planned for you as Springtime approaches. May the seeds of Love fill your hearts to overflowing.