This year, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day, an interesting confusion of dates. The last time these two holidays converged was 1945. But perhaps the overlap is fitting, given that Valentine’s Day is typically a celebration of love and the Lenten season is a time for reflecting on God’s sacrificial love for us. I’d like to kick off the season by sharing with you George Herbert’s classic poem about God’s love.
Herbert was a 17th century metaphysical poet who touched countless readers with his devotional lyrics. He attended Cambridge University and briefly served in Parliament before following his calling as an Anglican priest in his mid-thirties. He died young, of consumption, at the age of 39. But in his short life, he was devoted to serving the members of his parish and penned numerous poems that still move readers today.
by George Herbert
Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked any thing.
A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?
Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.