“be mine. kiss me. i’m yours”

Love is upon us, it’s almost here. February 14th a day vaguely associated with a third century Roman saint by the name of Valentine. There is no clear historical rational as to why courtly love is aligned with Saint Valentine, or a winged cherub with bow and arrow, but February 14th is a definite socially constructed, commercial and economic reality. Chocolate, champagne, hotel, flower and greeting card companies make huge money around February 14th and if we’re honest, we like that little extra attention on the day of the official declaration of Love. Who wouldn’t?Valentines

I remember making Valentine’s cards for mom and dad in school, also sending and receiving those candy hearts with messages on them, to/from classmates and little crushes. “Be Mine, I Like You, You’re Sweet.” It was fun and mostly harmless. By the teenage years Valentine’s day became tricky. No more candy hearts, a few broken hearts instead, unrequited crushes, and really awkward moments of wanting to be possessed by someone. So I thought.

Young adulthood was no less weird, but at least I was a bit more confident and sure of who I was. It was o.k. if I didn’t have a Valentine on Valentine’s day, and I’ve had a few. However, the current beauty of mid-life is that it doesn’t really matter anymore; even the pain of unrequited love fades more quickly and the ability to say what I want, who I want, what I like and don’t like, feels less strange and not too clumsy… usually. But is possession of another a noble goal? My worth, value and identity is not determined by whether or not I have a Valentine on Valentine’s day.

Watching the students I work with maneuver romantic relationships makes me smile and cringe, feel elated, and other times sad, because I remember being them. Shy, awkward, and literally trying to hide inside my skin; or confident, sassy and a bit over the top. Those were the times when I was probably hurting someone. Hurt people hurt people. The kind of vulnerability that true love requires can make the best of us feel a little silly and out of control, but whether it’s real friendship or romantic love, vulnerability is needed… a willingness to trust, be open, and reveal our true selves. Nakedness.

There were several amazing things about life in the garden before the fall of humanity. One was that there was no hint of possessiveness between the humans and God. Another was that there were no barriers between the people, and no barrier to God. The woman and the man were naked, and unashamed, and God dwelt in their midst. I’ll bet they were able to confidently say to one another outside of a context of possessiveness and ownership, “be mine, kiss me, I’m yours.”

So yea, for what it’s worth… for those who care, Happy Valentine’s Day.

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About Calenthia Dowdy

Calenthia Dowdy (PhD, American University) is a cultural anthropologist and youth ministry educator who focuses on urban youth and culture in the U.S. and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Alongside teaching, speaking and writing on youth, cities, race, gender, and faith, she serves as the director of faith initiatives at a comprehensive community health center that specializes in HIV/AIDS care