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Love, kindness should extend beyond Valentine’s

Just as the Eskimo are said to have a hundred words for snow, and the auto industry has many more hundreds of names for cars, so the world has many words for love.

Each year Boulder City, like many other Western locations, prepares to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14, but have you ever wondered where this custom originated?

An informative article by Borgna Brunner, http://bit.ly/2kebYFe, describes how early Christians substituted their calendar and festivals onto existing pagan celebrations. Early European Christian churches were often built on top of pre-existing pagan spiritual sites, and many ancient, sacred springs and wells were renamed for Christian saints.

Borgna writes: “The holiday’s roots are in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration commemorated annually on February 15. Pope Gelasius I recast this pagan festival as a Christian feast day circa 496 declaring February 14 to be St. Valentine’s Day.”

Valentine’s customs vary but focus mostly on written words, flowers and sweets in multiple combinations. The Welsh carve intricate love spoons (a custom still carried out today). Victorians constructed delicate paper-art cards and pictures for their sweethearts and played intricate parlor games to divine whom they would marry.

For example, an unbroken apple peel was placed in the fireplace where it would form the initial of the seeker’s future love. Such games have fallen out of fashion in our modern, commercialized society, but we still need to feel the love.

Valentine’s Day has suffered like many other traditions from commercialism; stores stock candy, cards and gifts as soon as, and sometimes before, the Christmas decorations have been cleared from the shelves. Red hearts bloom everywhere along with little Cupids shooting their arrows into unsuspecting lovers ready to soften hearts and wallets.

Sadly, our whole country is in need of a little love. But how? What about a little forgiveness for the hurt words and anger being hurled across the political fence? How about finding ways to spread a little love to someone or some group in your community that you might feel undeserving of loving attention?

There is a well-known Buddhist meditation that focuses on loving kindness. I was taught this many years ago by a spiritual teacher in the United Kingdom. It seems simple but can be difficult to carry out. The meditation starts with quieting the mind and feeling love for yourself, then extending out those feelings of love to acquaintances, to family and friends, to loved ones and eventually to your enemies. The Buddhist mantra that we are all one has never been more needed.

I received the following via a Facebook friend, and I liked her words. She wrote: “I hope your next publication will educate people to use the loving kindness in our hearts and to send out that love around the world. … It’s a powerful thing as we are truly connected, and the more that people focus on peace in our hearts we will eventually see that peace. Zara Lee, Auckland, New Zealand.”

Angela Smith is a Ph.D. life coach, author and educator who has been resident in Nevada since 1992. She can be reached at catalyst78@cox.net.

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