Valentines and Ashes, Love and Sacrifice
By Isaiah “Shaneequa” Brokenleg
As Epiphany ends and we prepare to enter the season of Lent, we have a rare situation where Ash Wednesday coincides with Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, we remember our mortality, begin a penitential season of reflection, and, hopefully, a journey toward reconciliation. Many folks make small or large sacrifices by fasting or taking on a new spiritual discipline. While many people’s first thoughts on Valentine’s Day may be chocolate, we are reminded to spread love, be loving, and remember Jesus’ commandment to love one another.
Thinking about these two things together, I am reminded of one of our Lakota words, “techihila.” This word is often translated as, “I love you.” However, it means, “I will endure for you,” or “I will sacrifice for you.” Love is an action word, not simply an emotion. When we say “I love you” to someone, there should also be action(s) attached. Techihila reminds us of this.
As we think about Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday, I wonder what I could sacrifice or endure to create Beloved Community—to share and show love to my neighbor. What privileges might I give up that could help to bring equity, reconciliation, and justice to our communities and the world? How might I try this new discipline during the season of Lent?
When I think of the love I’ve been shown, I remember all the ancestors who struggled, sacrificed, and endured so that I could be here today. This Black History Month, let us all take a moment to remember those who have given of themselves to fight for civil rights to create a more just world. Let us not forget those who have sacrificed for a vision of Beloved Community they knew could happen but one they might not see in their lifetime. May we also strive to make that vision a reality, taking with us the love that Jesus showed in giving his very life so that we all could have life everlasting. Let us sing, and let us march.
“Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us; Facing the rising sun of our new day begun, Let us march on ’til victory is won.”
— from “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson
The Rev. Isaiah “Shaneequa” Brokenleg is the staff officer for racial reconciliation at The Episcopal Church and the associate rector at Church of the Good Shepherd in South Dakota.