It was Alfred Tennyson who famously said, “In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” February, the month for pancakes and Valentine’s Day!
It was also in the month of February, in 1990, that Nelson Mandela, at the age of 71, was released from prison in South Africa after serving 27 years of a life sentence on charges of attempting to overthrow the apartheid government. In April 1994, he was elected president in the first all-race elections. There have been many notable events that have happened in the month of February including in 1952, when King George VI died. Upon his death our present Queen, Elisabeth II succeeded him, her coronation taking place on June 2nd 1953.
One of many extraordinary stories of bravery which happened in the month of February was in 1943, when, off the icy waters of Greenland, the US transport ship Dorchester was hit by a German torpedo and began to sink rapidly. When it became apparent that there were not enough life jackets to go round, four Army Chaplains on board, removed theirs and handed them to frightened young soldiers, choosing to go down with the ship while praying.
On February 14th we celebrate St Valentines Day. Not much is known about this man and there are various stories floating around. The most reliable goes like this: Valentine was under house arrest in Rome because of his Christian faith, during the dictatorship of the Emperor Claudius. The person assigned to guard him was Judge Asterius who had a blind daughter. Asterius challenged Valentine to prove that his Christianity was true by healing his daughter of blindness. Valentine touched the eyes of the child and her sight was restored. There are other accounts of Valentine standing up for people who were being oppressed and conducting marriage ceremonies to enable lovers to be together in a union recognised by the law. Not popular with the emperor, because the men involved became exempt from military service. Valentine ended up losing his life because of his faith.
I once ran an humanitarian agency, taking hundreds of volunteers to build clinics, feeding centres and schools in some of the poorest parts of the world. A catch phrase we used was: Making Waves. Stirring Hearts. Fighting Back.
May you know God’s blessing upon you as we move into the season of Spring.