One of the reasons I love Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday is the juxtaposition of the feast and fast. I believe that we need both, and I love the tension of having them side by side.

This year also happens to be that trick of the calendar when Ash Wednesday falls on the largely secular feast of St. Valentine’s Day.

This has led to a variety of jokes online that have made me chuckle. “You can’t spell ‘Valentines’ without ‘Lent.’” As well as several shots at Ash Wednesday-themed Valentine’s cards.

On a day meant for fasting, for viscerally remembering our mortality, for facing our sin, for wearing ashes on our forehead as a sign of our penitence, there is certainly some tension that is in part comical to have it paired with the increasingly sparkly, commercialized day devoted to the exchange of cards and chocolates and flowers in the name of love.

However, maybe there is something rich and insightful about these observances happening to be one and the same this year. Because I experience something so loving, so freeing in the reminder of my mortality, in the reminder that I am not perfect, that I fall short of the glory of God. What a relief to remember that I am not God. And. That God loves me anyway.

Thanks be to God!