Valentine’s Day’s full title is St. Valentine’s Day, because it was named after two St Valentines. They were both Italian clergy martyred in the 3rd century AD for their Christian faith. Because of their sacrificial love, it has become one of the most popular annual events celebrated by hundred of millions around the world. It has become a traditional date night where a wise husband remembers to take his wife out for dinner, followed perhaps by a movie or theatre production. (Husbands, please note that such dates are much less expensive than divorce lawyer’s fee; so put Feb 14th in your IPhone or Blackberry).
Many years ago in a Deep Cove Crier article about marriage, I wrote the following words: “Inside the heart of each and every one of us there is a longing to be understood by someone who really cares. When a person is understood, he or she can put up with almost anything in the world.” After being posted (unbeknown to me) on hundreds of Romance websites, I was approached to write a chapter for the upcoming Canadian anthology “Hot Apple Cider 2’ about this romantic quote. In Hot Apple Cider 2, I commented that my beloved wife “Janice and I are learning afresh the joy of ordinary pleasures: taking regular time together for peaceful walks, chatting over a cup of tea, listening to each other’s daily experiences, watching a video together, going out for dinner, and even reading together.”
One day I picked up the North Shore News, read Martin Millerchip’s article about Presentation House, and on a whim said to Janice: “Let’s go out on a date night to see Antony Holland’s St Mark’s Gospel.” Being remarkably adaptable, Janice agreed. What a wonderful evening. Unplanned, unexpected, and totally memorable. Happy marriages need to have that sense of adventure, of the unexpected. Boredom in marriage is the devil’s best tool.
Sadly many husbands stop dating their wives after they marry them. “What happened to the man I married?”, many wives wonder. Why was he so attentive before marriage, and now he would rather hang out on the golf course or stay late at work? Our wives deeply need to be romanced, pursued, won over every week. That is one reason why the romance novels are a Billionaire dollar industry, because we husbands are not always putting our wives first. My wife Janice needs to know that she is more important than my work, my hobbies, my writing, my sports. She needs to be Number One under God in my life.
I love to hold my beloved Janice’s hand when we are out on a date. Sitting there in Presentation House, watching Antony Holland perform St Mark’s Gospel, I often reached out to her and gently squeezed her hand when something was really moving. Many people don’t know that Mark’s Gospel is high drama, and when done by a gifted artist, can bring you to tears. Antony Holland, at age 91, is literally North America’s oldest leading actor. If I have half as much energy when I am in my nineties, I will be deeply grateful. As Martin Millerchip of the North Shore News put it, Holland’s ‘hard to resist, perhaps like Jesus’. Holland directed plays throughout the Middle East for the WWII Allied forces, and founded Studio 58 at Langara College where my parents attended his plays for many years. (My late mother once told me that Studio 58 initially rehearsed its play in our St. Matthias Oakridge church basement.)
I first became aware of Antony Holland from watching his phenomenal acting in ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’. No one dances quite like Holland in the final ‘Morrie’ scene. Antony Holland is the quintessential actor. He loves what he does. At age 91, he has just started. Love is what motivates him. Love of acting and love of people. In both St Mark’s Gospel and Tuesdays with Morrie, the love of God overflows through Holland.
This Valentine’s Day, may I love my wife even more deeply than Holland loves acting and loves his audience. May my beloved wife know that she means everything to me, that she must never come second, that my heart is still aflame with tenderness for her, thirty-three years after I said ‘I do’. May this gift of tender romance be real and life-changing this Feb 14th for your marriage, for your family, for your community.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada
-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News
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