Dreaming in Delaware: St Valentine and Augustine


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?






[i] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1305.htm?xid=PS_smithsonian