The urge to write struck me as I was sitting here. I have a sneaking suspicion that this has something to do with the mountain of German homework I should be doing. Alas, for now I only feel like writing in English; say what I will about enjoying other languages, English is the language of my heart; my mother tongue and the stuff of my imagination. I will never take the same joy from another.
I suppose, since it is St. Valentines Day, that I should say something to the subject at hand.
Those of you who know me none to well might not be wise to this, but I am something of a hopeless, sopping, sappy, romantic. I subscribe to a great many old-fangled notions, and cling desperately to a somewhat idealized view of love. Perhaps our present hook-up culture has left me a touch outdated, but that is quite alright; I will take classic grace and beauty over coarse modernity any day.
But, take heart, my old-fangled brothers, Valentines Day is as much for us as for those who are just looking to, ah, "get lucky." In fact, we must make it more so! We are at war; the chick-flick against pornography, Jane Austen against Fifty Shades, commitment against the "I'll have one of each" mentality.
We fight for the triumph of romantic love over impulse. We do not despise or deny our sexuality, but neither do we divorce our sexuality from love. We do not confuse love and infatuation. Love is so much more than the heady tonic of hormones--pleasant though they may be--and is not encapsulated in a moment of feelings.
Pardon my thinking like a history major, but love is the record of actions over time; the easy, intimate, familiarity which a couple develops over time. Love cannot be passive; this familiarity recognizes the needs and moods of the beloved, and acts, perhaps without knowing, for the good of the beloved. Love desires to be happy, but it finds that contentment, not in momentary physical pleasure, but in the health, happiness, and contentment of another.
The love of a man for his beloved should, in some respects, reflect the love of a mother for her children. He should take no greater joy than in her growth, contentment, and--more than anything--in her loving him in turn.
I realize that men have always, across all time, used--used!--women for sexual pleasure, but there are fewer times, to my perception, when we exalted in it quite the same way that we do now. Further, it has come to a point where there are women who exalt in being used; a much rarer depravity.
I say depravity, because so it is. To objectify another person is depravity; it is the absence of the basic respect that we owe to our fellows. In the arena of love, however, I view it as nothing less than an abomination. It is the vulgar spectacle of money lenders in the church. They are taking something beautiful and transcendent and violating it for their profit. They co-opt to their seductions the emotional power of--and yearning for--some deeper romantic love.
Many find St. Valentine to be incongruous with a day celebrating love; I find I can twist it to fit. Valentine was murdered for preaching to the emperor. But do you not think that he knew what his portion would be; he preached the Gospel to a man who was even then persecuting the Christians. His was an act of sacrificial love; he could have held his silence and kept his life, but the emperor had befriended him, and Valentine repaid that friendship with his own, sacrificial, love.
Learn from St. Valentine. His day is a day to be bold, to seize the day in the face of almost certain martyrdom. ;-p
Learn from St. Valentine. His day is a day to be bold; to be bold in loving others and in asking for their love. A day for brash, public, expressions of love; foolish to men. That is love; to be willing to be the fool, the oaf, the clown, the protector, the champion, the friend, the therapist, the nurse, and the martyr for your beloved. Not just to be willing, but to do those things every day, for as long as you both shall live.
Go then, my brothers, and be bold to love.