Valentine’s Day traditionally is a day of joy and love, not just celebrated by people in love but also by school children all over the United States. I remember giving valentine cards to every member of my fourth grade class at St Charles Grade School in Burlington.
Valentine’s Day 2018 is especially unique because in the Christian Tradition it was Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent is a 40-day period that involves spiritual practices of fasting, praying and almsgiving. As I grew up, I remember Lent as a sacred time when I could change my life positively. Fasting taught me that to sacrifice my urges made me a stronger spiritual person. I learned to develop my will power when I gave up candy or meat. I became stronger at saying “No” to those actions and thoughts that could harm myself or others.
This 2018 Valentine’s Day was also the day when a young man killed 17 high school students in Florida with an assault, military-style semi-automatic rifle. Debate as to why this happened is just beginning throughout the entire world, but especially here in the United States. Rather than entering into that discussion, I would like to offer a challenging response to this Valentine’s Day event.
Let’s fast from fear and from anything attached to fear and from anything that triggers fear for these forty days of Lent. According to the Yoga Tradition, Forty Days is a significant length of time. When a person does one thing for 40 days, that person is transformed by that practice, says Yoga. The entire behavior of the person is changed.
The killing of the school children has triggered lots of fear in the United States, especially among school children and parents who have children in schools.
However, instead of focusing on fear, let’s focus on the protection of the Divine by fasting from watching violent movies or playing war video games; or by fasting from shooting our guns with images of an enemy in mind; or by fasting from yelling at a referee during a March Madness basketball game; or by fasting from anything that might bring up anger within us.
Instead let’s focus on loving our enemy, whether a politician or a fellow worker or a challenger in our lives. Let’s fast from anything that produces the fight-flight-fright response in our body, like sugar, alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine.
Let’s focus on saying wonderful things to ourselves that would encourage the fasting we desire. I suggest that we put ourselves to sleep at night by saying to ourselves… “I am safe and loved and protected from all danger by the Source of Life (by God).” Putting ourselves to sleep with this on our lips and in our mind will transform our world into an incredibly safe and peaceful place.
Try it! You might like it! Christianity says that the Valentine’s Day love is important and the Yoga Tradition confirms that such a practice works.
Maybe we will know, then, at the end of this practice how to solve this United States’ mass shooting problem.