Unification News for April and May 2000

Dear Saint Valentine

Ina Conneally
Newburgh, NY
April, 2000

"Dear Saint Valentine...Bless this friend of mine," reads a cartoon in a Catholic magazine my son has brought home from school. I like its simple message about friendship--quite different from the hearts-and-darts tradition and its annual invasion of chocolate, red roses and fat-cheeked cherubs.

Coming from Germany, I still feel insecure about the meaning of this holiday. I remember the "Fourteenth of February" mentioned in our hometown flower store. Can just about anyone receive a Valentine, or only special friends and lovers? A couple of years ago, after our mailman hadnít received any Christmas gift yet, I suggested cookies wrapped in a heart-shaped box, to honor the occasion. I got a strange look from my husband for that.

But now, as the years pass, I think I am getting the hang of it. Or maybe I am just being slowly brainwashed by all the romance that suddenly pours out of greeting card corners and candy sections. Still, it was a book that recently got my attention. Covered with pink hearts of all sorts and shapes, it bore the promising title: "Chicken soup for the coupleís soul." I bought it and started reading it as soon as we got home. Stories about love found, love restored and love celebrated; young and old love, love between healthy people and those afflicted with a terminal disease. There was the story of a little Jewish boy who met a girl at a barbed-wire fence of the concentration camp where he was imprisoned. She flung an apple over that fence every day, smiling and giving him hope, until he was transported to another camp. Years later, he meets her by accident in New York City...and they get married.

Occasionally sobbing, between reading and making dinner, my mind drifts away. How beautiful these stories are, how profound. Real-life testimonies are always more interesting than fiction. I wonder if God, too, has a collection of His favorite love stories. And I also wonder if I am part of it. The story of how I met my spouse, years ago, at a Church factory surrounded by Korean mountains and a daily glorious sunrise. How we talked more deeply for the first time, which almost took my breath away...partly because the night was freezing and partly because I was so overwhelmed by the fact of just having been matched. Our Blessing ceremony, during which I cried a lot...and then...how we have managed ever since.

It seems easier to start a story with vigor than to go through the "ever since" part with the same excitement. What has happened to Cinderella after she married the prince? Symbolically speaking, it is because a sunrise is more poetic than the middle of the day. Still, there must be moments during the day, too, that are worthy of remembering....

The spouse that I am talking about just came home from shopping. I ask him what he thinks about the idea of "life is like a day, no more and no less, in the universe of existence." He isnít really tuned in, but talks about a really good-looking mango that heís gotten for less than a dollar. "Senora, it is good for your health," he hums in a Puerto-Rican accent. One of our typical moments: he speaks on behalf of Mother Earth, and I am more like a satellite dish. But I like the way he imitates foreign languages. And I like the little song he is making up while he unpacks the groceries...something about a mango while you dance the tango. Now, this is nothing compared to sitting at someoneís death-bed, making a final statement. But life isnít always about big stories; itís the little ones that let us eat our mango with the rhythm of a tango.

Hours later, I finish the last of the hand-crafted hearts for my sonís class project. After the 30th card, I feel I have done my share for this occasion. Suddenly, I realize this yearís Blessing is just one day ahead of Valentineís Day. Certainly no coincidence. I think the event will get good media coverage. "Seoul mates blessed by Rev. Moon," or something like that.

Last yearís Blessing was very moving to watch on video. The brides looked so fragile, with their cheeks blushed and their lips trembling. Someone who doesnít know itís the middle of winter and temperatures are freezing might think the trembling and blushing comes from all the excitement and deep spirituality. I am sure this yearís couples will have something to remember, too, when they look back at "Blessing 2000." And when they celebrate their first anniversary, they can at the same time honor a special saint by praying: "Dear Saint Valentine...please bless this spouse of mine!"

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