Sometime the timing of events makes one pause for reflection. Like last week’s timing of Ash Wednesday followed by Valentine’s Day. While so much of our society was scurrying to find the right way to share expressions of love, many were remembering one named Jesus who expressed supreme love with the ultimate sacrifice. Commercials began months ago, and as the day came closer people started asking, “What are you going to do on Valentine’s Day?” Yet for those of us who spend each day with those who spend most of their lives at sea, mostly from nations other than the USA, this “holiday” never enters the conversation.
These dedicated people from nations with struggling economies on whom the world’s economy rests (after all, 95 percent of all goods travel by ship) celebrate few commercial holidays that we take for granted. Working away from home most days of the year, enduring 30-foot waves, cold and damp days at sea and long hours without touching land, these people are like all of us trying to earn a living for our family — except they really know the meaning of love. It makes one wonder, is love the commercial romance that seems to define our culture, or is it doing what is necessary to support your family and your wife’s family the essence of true love? Is love a romantic dinner or a phone call three days before Valentine’s, the first in four weeks, because that is the only time you were able to be near enough to land to use a phone?
I’m not trying to bash Valentine’s Day; after all, taking one day to express love for someone special is far better than taking them for granted. I merely wonder about why we tend to define it in emotional, commercial ways and often forget the small, sacrificial things that happen each day that express a love much stronger and more valuable.