AshWednesdayValentinesThe proximity in dates of Chinese New Year, Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day has caused challenges in both my “employments” within our local community of Corbe House and in my writing assignments from our Director of Marketing and Communications.

At home, I have responsibility for our chapel and dining room; and I love to decorate both to reflect the spirit of the feast or season or special occasion. With Chinese New Year being celebrated on February 10, Ash Wednesday on February 13 and Valentine’s Day on February 14, I finally decided to go with a basic cream colored table cloth and use our red placemats for the two “red” occasions — and whisk them off for the penitential day between. A purple candle will do for reminding us of Lent as we dine on Ash Wednesday. I’ll figure the rest of Lent’s dining room motif later!

The chapel proved a bit easier. Purple cloth on our prayer table and brass globe tea lights with heart shaped cutouts did nicely. (It’s the big things in life, isn’t it? Anyway, I feel better having settled these important matters.)

As for my writing assignments, Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, the providence of God again took care of me. A very good friend often makes her own valentine cards. Pen and ink combine with water color designs to convey her heartfelt greetings. I often save the cards to use in my annual valentine decorating. So, voilà! Last year’s card and its poem seem appropriate for both Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day!

Love’s Faithfulness

You offer comfort
in affliction.
Within the wasteland of my pilgrim heart
you stand radiant.
Moving forward,
dust blown through the years
facing every onslaught
wiping every tear
defusing every deception
disarming vanity
confronting pride —
idolatry of any kind —
seemingly lost amidst unbelief
and the pain and turmoil of past years
and recent grief,
yet here you stand.
With you I emerge
burnt
yet more vulnerable
more real.

(Kathy Keay — Laughter, Silence and Shouting)

How does this poem speak both to the Lenten invitation to delve deeper into the God who is love, as well as to the original kindnesses and expressions of love behind all the glitz of Valentine’s

Day — well, I know how it does for me.

How does it for you? Or does it at all? I leave that to your prayer and reflection. After all, that’s the point of Lent, isn’t it — pondering the mystery of who is God?

May all of us travel this Lenten journey with joy and hope; and, of course, Happy Valentine’s Day! The Sisters of Providence continue to hold you in our prayer.