February 14th brings a mixed bag to the table of Time: beheaded saints, chocolate addiction, an ancient Roman celebration of fertility and a billion valentine cards. This is a day when roses rule, although promises about rose gardens aren’t kept. The following poem and quotes from Augustine are intended as a tonic for those suffering from the chill of doubt that leads to frozen despair, be it about the future of the United Methodists or the United States.
The last thing I need in a valentine
is some under-clad cupid
trying to puncture an over-worked will
and the last reserves of control.
Unbuttoned hope just leads to exposure.
Any extremity of emotion
brought on by Hallmark
deserves all the frostbite it finds.
Life’s temperature gauge
has been down so long
Zero is up.
No plaster saint can convince me
there’s a point to hearts and flowers.
Even chocolate loses its appeal
when you pack it in your pocket
and get stuck in a snowdrift for days.
When the threat of brimstone
begins to make sense
and headlines the news
it’s time to rekindle Pentecost’s fire.
Didn’t he say
“Keep the peace and pass the salt?”
Or was it
“Hold your salt and pass the peace?”
Didn’t he promise
the Spirit would find us
stiff as a board,
stranded on ice,
frozen with fear and snow blind?
Check the calendar.
When can we turn up the heat?
Isn’t this the season
our ears should start to tingle
and our hearts get strangely warm?
Heather Murray Elkins Copyright 1994
[i]St. Augustine Concerning Faith of Things Not See
There are those who think that the Christian religion is what we should smile at rather than hold fast, for this reason, that, in it, not what may be seen, is shown, but men are commanded faith of things which are not seen. We therefore, that we may refute these, who seem to themselves through prudence to be unwilling to believe what they cannot see, although we are not able to show unto human sight those divine things which we believe, yet do show unto human minds that even those things which are not seen are to be believed…
If this faith be taken away from human affairs, who but must observe how great disorder in them, and how fearful confusion must follow? For who will be loved by any with mutual affection, (being that the loving itself is invisible,) if what I see not, I ought not to believe? Therefore will the whole of friendship perish, in that it consists not save of mutual love. For what of it will it be able to receive from any, if nothing of it shall be believed to be shown?