You know the routine; picking out that special card with just the right verses, and then that special gift – an upscale box of candy, some flowers, maybe a nice ring, a new car, or some tickets for a cruise.
According to Wikipedia, The historical background of Valentine’s day seems to go back to Christian martyrs named “Valentine” who died while standing up for their religious beliefs. “The first recorded association of Valentine’s Day with romantic love is in (a poem) Parlement of Foules (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer:
For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese [choose] his make [mate].
This poem was written to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia. A treaty providing for a marriage was signed on May 2, 1381. (When they were married eight months later, he was 13 or 14. She was 14.)”
So how did Valentine’s day go from martyrism to romantic love? That I’m not sure of, but now Valentine’s day is all about our feelings toward that special person. However, I can’t help think about the martyrs, and how their sacrifices helped to build a strong foundation for the Christian religion. And I can’t help think about what gift would last beyond a ring, a car, or a cruise, and therefore have more meaning.
Janet and I drove through Arcadia, Florida recently. Arcadia is home to many illegal immigrants, living in dilapidated trailers crowded with two, three, maybe more families, and when we drove by, a young woman with a baby in her arms smiled and waved at us, and as I recall this, I can’t help wonder what her husband will do for her on Valentine’s day.
He probably works for a landscaping company, or a builder, making wages lower than the federal or state minimum wage. No insurance, no worker’s compensation, no healthcare. But he can’t complain, or he will be reported. He is a slave. You can see him on the back of open landscaping trailers riding with 15 or 20 other men before the sun comes up, and coming home after dark, sometimes in the rain or cold when they cover themselves with plastic garbage bags. He is doing the best he can. He has sacrificed everything to live in fear, for the hopes that his children will have a better life someday. He is a martyr.
And he loves his wife as dearly as any other man does, and he feels bad in his heart that he can’t do better for her… and Valentine’s Day is coming. There will be no cruises or new car for her this year, not even a ring, or a box of candy, or even flowers. It will be just like any other day, as he works in the rain, or the cold, or the relentless sun, on well-to-do people’s lawns. He feels no animosity toward them, he only respects them and hopes that someday he will be able to have a place of his own. He has a kind heart.