This morning, as I gathered some of “my favorite things” for inspiration, my son walked in and was immediately captivated by a heart-shaped box I’d received many Valentine’s Days ago.
Through the years, this box has helped my husband and I express love in different ways. But when my son picked it up and eyed it with fascination, I realized that it was time for the box to take on a familial kind of love, or storgic love.
The ancient Greek word “storge” can be applied to a deep long-term commitment that we have for all that surrounds us. It’s the type of love we have for our family, and the type of love that we’re called to have for God’s creation.
As Pope Francis wrote in Laudato Si’: “The world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise” (LS 12).
We too often forget about this kind of love for our common home on the holiday for love, Valentine’s Day. We spend billions on cards and candy, and easily get caught up in a whirlwind of needless buying and spending (LS 203).
But this Valentine’s Day, don’t fall prey to the marketing and gimmickry – make a conscious decision to fall in love with God’s creation. Whether you are celebrating alone, with a romantic partner, friends, or family, here are five ways that you can enjoy this special day while honoring our common home.
Fall in love with creation: 5 ways to enjoy a sustainable Valentine’s Day
1. Love yourself!
We know that to be able to love others, we must truly love ourselves. It is a paradox of our time that, while there seems to be an emphasis on individualism, we neglect taking care of ourselves.
Take a moment to bask in the gratitude you have for all that God has given you. Look around your home, your neighborhood, and just take a moment for you and God to connect. It can be only a few seconds, or it can be a few minutes. Whatever time you have is perfect. Try not to think about what’s wrong, but just use this time to appreciate the beauty in your life.
“Christian spirituality proposes a growth marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little. It is a return to that simplicity which allows us to stop and appreciate the small things, to be grateful for the opportunities which life affords us, to be spiritually detached from what we possess, and not to succumb to sadness for what we lack” (LS 222).
2. DIY Gifts: card and edible bouquet
Creatively craft a unique card or letter with heartfelt words that strengthens a relationship, leaving the receiver with a special feeling inside and a waste-free memento to be treasured for life.
Consider including a do-it-yourself coupon for an added bonus, like a massage, breakfast in bed, a future experience, or whatever personalized perk comes to mind. As for the bouquet, have fun putting together a deliciously original arrangement!
This can also serve as an opportunity to involve children, as good education plants seeds when we are young, and these continue to bear fruit throughout life (LS 213).
3. Connect with God in creation
Take a hike, go for a swim, or simply find a spot in nature where you can sit, pray, and meditate while taking in God’s creations with your five senses. Experience the wondrous sights, sounds, smells, textures, and let your voice rejoice by humming, singing, chanting, singing, or praising the Lord.
We can say “thank you” as an expression of genuine gratitude for what we have been given…these simple gestures of heartfelt courtesy help to create a culture of shared life and respect for our surroundings (LS 213). By learning to see and appreciate beauty, we learn to reject self-interested pragmatism (LS 215).
4. Nurture nature
There are many ways to take care of Mother Earth. You can go the DIY route by planting a tree, gardening, or picking up trash in a natural habitat. You also can look for organizations in your area that provide collaborative opportunities for you to get involved in a community effort or support sustainably-operated businesses that provide goods, services or experiences while helping to preserve nature.
As Catholics and people of faith, we’re called to pray, take action, and advocate for our common home. This Valentine’s Day, truly love our common home by signing the Healthy Planet, Healthy People petition! This petition has been signed by tens of thousands of Catholics across the world and calls on the world’s governments to take ambitious action at the upcoming United Nations conference on biodiversity. Sign the petition!
How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments sections below.