Some may have found themselves in a spiritual quandary of foregoing chocolate (and all sweets) for Lent while being drawn to the decadence of its aromatic elixer all around -- co-workers’ desks, drugstores’ shelves, and perhaps even your own nightstand. This year the first day of Lent is also Valentine’s Day.
For others, this Valentine’s Day is just another Thursday. No chocolates, no roses, no sappy cards. Just another day of longing for reciprocal acknowledgement of loving and being loved. Just the first day of giving up, fasting from, struggling through the next 40 days of Lent.
I am grateful to be among the ones giving and receiving chocolates, flowers, and cards. What struck me oddly was that I gave chocolates (and wine and flowering plant and really expensive card) to one who did not give me either. I received roses (three beautiful pink ones now drying in the window) from another one to whom I gave nothing. And I received cards from geographically and socially distant acquaintances.
During Lent, might we consider that reciprocity is not the equal exchange of gifts from one to another simultaneously. Rather, consider reciprocity in relationships happen often unexpectedly and surprisingly. Like when: God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). Standing before God empty-handed, we received no greater gift, no Greater Love.
And so it is that for this season of Lent let us practice mindfulness to give and to receive gifts depending only on Divine dispensation of opportunities for us to give and overtures of others to give to us. That’s where reciprocity happens best in relationships -- by surprise and without presumption.
If you are one who regards Valentine’s Day as just another Thursday, I encourage you to buy a morsel of the best chocolate you can afford, a single fragrant rose, and a beautiful blank card in which you can publish your heart’s desire. In doing so, savor each moment as God the Universe reminds you that you are loved, deeply and indeed.
For others, I bless you to eat that chocolate, guiltless, while observing Lent with like mindedness. Lent, being as much as about giving up, it is also about giving in to gifts from God. Sometimes, those gifts are chocolate, roses and sentimental cards exchanged between hearts, and not necessarily from the ones to whom we give or from whom we recieve.
Happy Valentine’s Day while commencing your Lenten Journey of God’s Gifts.