Seeing a sign promising $10 roses, my guilty heart compromised with my cheapskate heart and I swerved my car into the florist’s parking lot.
How much are your Valentine roses?” I asked the man at the counter..
“For which day?” he asked.
Now, I’m thinking, “If he doesn’t know that Valentine Day is on February 14th, he’s having a bigger career crisis than this chaplain can help him with. Either that or he has mistaken me for someone who plans a year in advance.”
I bet on the latter probability and replied, “Valentine day, this year.”
“Yes, but which day of the week?” he asks.
The day of the week Valentine Day actually falls on,” I answer as if this were a trick question
“Well,” he said “Valentine Day is Thursday, but roses are cheaper on Monday and we get market price on the big day.”
Did you ever hear the gears of a truck shifting just before it ran you over? I could hear his gears shifting as I took the bait. “What is the price on Thursday?” The guilty husband and the penny pincher in me were at war.
$70. “Supply and Demand,” he said responding to my grimace.
“Hmmm,” I mused as I walked backward toward the door like a sheriff cornered by some bad banditos in a border town saloon. “Thank ya, kindly, Sir, I added, staying in the western script.
My hesitant retreat was doing nothing to slow his lecture on the laws of economics. “This is the best price you’ll find,” he said in the pleading tone of a street vendor.
“Man,” I thought, “how much is love supposed to cost?” The scripture defines the highest price a person can pay for love is to lay down his life for another. That is quite a price.
Several years ago I sought to comfort the family of a 17-yr. old boy who had been wheeled into our emergency room and pronounced dead. Employed at a local water park, he and his coworkers were playing volleyball at the park when one of the employees decided to see how far he could shimmy up a light post. As the light poll began to teeter the climber jumped clear.
As the light pole began it’s threatening descent toward the gamers, our patient saw that the pole was about to hit a friend. He shoved his friend out of danger and shielded his own body with outstretched hands. Tragically, the tottering pole lost its electrical ground and the boy fielded 220 volts
Neither the valiant attempts of grieving lifeguard friends nor the any of the efforts by paramedics and hospital staff ever gave this boy another breath on his own. For the next few hours, hospital staff made repeated attempts to contact the parents until finally the cryptic message to come to the hospital reached the parents.
As they arrived, I mentioned our frustrated attempts to reach them and their reply to my inquisitiveness stopped us cold. They had been with their oldest son at a nearby cancer center where he was dying of leukemia.
After the doctor explained to the parents the events of their son’s death, coworkers gathered to add the heroic details. Then, looking for words that would add closure to the event, I noted how remarkable it was that he had given his life for his friend. When the mother deflected my remarks by changing the subject, I pushed further in my naiveté and quoted the verse about their being no greater love than this.
That is when she thanked me “kindly for the sentiments. You know,” she said “I’m sure that will be of comfort to me someday, but right now, you’ll have to excuse me if I wish that it had been some other boy in that morgue and not MY son.
She loved her son, but there was no way in that moment that she was going to accept his sacrifice. For love to be complete, the sacrifice of love has to be claimed and accepted. I can buy flowers until my VISA is maxed out and I work two jobs to pay it off, but if my wife doesn’t accept the sacrifice, love has not fulfilled itself.
Next week we began the season of the year that honors that sacrifice. It is much bigger than the Valentine’s Day. Christians call it lent. It is a season in which we honor and accept the sacrifice made on our behalf and accept that sacrifice as the complete act of God’s love. Only as it we accept it, can love complete its journey.
After completing my journey to the florist, I called my wife at work.
“You know I love you more than $70, right?
“Yeah,” she said, her answer dripping with suspicion, “I suppose so.”
“The roses are $70!”
“Valentine Day roses!”
“That’s crazy,” she said, releasing an exhausted breath. “Forget about it!”
So, you know I love you more than that, right?
“Yes,” she cooed. “I know you love me more than that, but still,” she paused, “you can buy me roses for my birthday next month – they’ll be cheaper then.
And with that comment, we reached an agreement on this year’s market cost of love.