I paid homage to St Valentine yesterday by procuring a heart-shaped pizza from Papa Murphy's, throwing in a balloon and some party accoutrements and delivering myself and the goods to my grandchildren’s door. According to my granddaughter, this constituted “the BEST Valentine Day EVER” which is quite the compliment since the first three of her five celebrations she doesn’t remember. Score while it’s easy, friends.  

All this set me to musing about the “holiday” that is the bona fide Day o’ Love in our culture. Evidently “Valentine” is the name of several martyred saints (14 in all) from ancient Rome. Of the Saint whose feast is on February 14, nothing is known except his name and the date of his burial north of Rome on that same date. Okay! How do we go from martyrdom, feasts, saints and burials to the demand for heart-shaped pizzas, flowers and chocolate? Maybe the feasting part isn’t such a stretch, but the rest of it doesn’t seem to match up.

But wait! The name, “Valentine,” popular back in the day, is derived from the word valens, meaning “worthy, strong, powerful.” Now we’re getting somewhere. Have you lived long enough to notice that you can be in a relationship on Valentine’s Day and not enjoy the festivities? Feel obligated by them? Disappointed with the experience? (Even martyred perhaps?)  On the other hand, have you lived long enough to be single on Valentine’s Day and be in love—with life, yourself and your circle of beloveds?

If so, perhaps you’ve discovered the true meaning of Valentine's Day whatever your registered relational status: to feel worthy, strong and powerful within yourself … and share your love from that wildly beating place. Here’s my truth: I’ve spent most of my adult Valentine Days in a relationship. A few are memorable, most forgotten. On the years when I had all the trimmings, but didn’t feel worthy, strong and powerful as a person, I measured my loveableness by those trimmings. On the years when I didn’t get them and neither felt worthy, strong or powerful, I was crestfallen. But as I’ve grown in valens, February 14 isn’t that much different than any other day. In a partnership or not, I am in love with the life I am creating, the experiences I’m having, and the community of sweethearts that share their love and journey with me. None of us are saints, but we can all be the grateful hosts of healthy, happy hearts.

Have you put the valens in Valentine?

A Hui Hou (til we meet again),