Simple Living Works!

Let’s Celebrate an Alternative St. Valentine’s Day

Posted on: February 8, 2014

I was in prison and you visited me.

The First Valentine

The real St. Valentine was martyred in Rome about 270 A.D. While in prison, the story goes, Valentine was befriended by his jailer’s daughter. On the eve of his execution, Valentine thanked her for her care and kindness in a note signed “Your Valentine. ” And so was born our tradition for exchanging such notes.

In observing this day, the spirit of kindness shown by the jailer’s daughter reminds us to include concern for those in prison. There are charges and counter-charges about our prisons and criminal justice system. Some say, “We need more jails and longer sentences!” while others say, “Our prisons are filled with poor people unable to afford legal assistance available to the affluent.” The debate goes on. We need to know more than we do about our penal system. And Valentine’s Day is a good time to begin learning.

For Reflection and Action

1. Visit some people in jail or prison. Meet their families. Take your children along with you. Also, meet and talk with someone who has been a victim of crime.
2. Talk about the ways our criminal justice system is just and unjust. What kinds of measures would make it more just and result in greater protection for society at large?

Personal Experience

Our congregation supports Prison Congregations of America, which works to form Lutheran (ELCA) congregations within prisons. We have four such congregations in Northwest Iowa and Southeast South Dakota. The “inside” and “outside” councils raise enough to pay the ordained pastor. This is not a chaplain. Recently one congregation was awarded the Outstanding Literacy Project in the state for inmates reading books to their children via recordings!

Our team goes to worship with the inmates about six times a year (once a month while the weather’s reasonable). The inmates really appreciate our presence and we get our stereotypes about prisoners shredded!

If you want more of a challenge, join a ReEntry Team, a group of five people who pledge to contact a recently released prisoner in your area weekly to help him/her with housing, employment, medical, etc.

Valentine’s Day  (art & text can be used as bulletin inserts)
3-A537–Death Penalty | 3-A539–Human Rights: An Affair of the Heart | 3-A542–First Valentine (above) | 3-A549–Prisoners of Conscience

What’s NOW with SLW!

  • Simple Living 101: Tools for Activists (shy or bold) + Jerry’s Excellent Adventure – Feb. 1 SLW! Podcast | Sharing the Joy of a Simpler Lifestyle Through Speeches, Workshops, Events, Study/Action Groups, Simplicity Circles and Social Media

What’s Coming

What’s Happened

What Others Are Doing

More Resources

Check out a few of these thought-provoking, timely resources that might meet your personal, family or congregational/group needs. They’re all FREE.

Podcast Reminder

You can access all SLW! podcast audio and the show notes either at or at (then click window #3). Listen through your computer, iPod, iPad, iPhone (or equivalent). SUBSCRIBE through or your favorite podcast service.

Access individual episodes: #1-3: Getting Acquainted | #4-5: Beyond a Consumer Lifestyle | #6-11: Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? | #12: Living More with Less UPDATED | #13 – Let’s Get Ready for a Simpler Lent & Easter  | #14 – Simple Living 101: Tools for Activists (shy or bold) + new Social Media Supplement

Do your friends a favor. Share this blog and podcast.

Peace, Gerald “Jerry” Iversen, Chief SLW! Activist

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*GRAPHIC: Spirit of Simplicity: Chapter 3: Celebrating Other Times #3-A542–First Valentine

We do not solicit or accept donations, nor do we sell anything. All our resources and services are free of charge. We’re an all-volunteer organization.

*Treasury of Celebrations: published by Northstone, a division of Wood Lake Publications, BC, Canada, best known for its Seasons of the Spirit curriculum.

Through social media, we extend the mission and resources of the non-profit organization Alternatives, 1973-2011. Simple Living Works! web site home page | Theme/Seasons Index

To learn more about SLW! – our MISSION, for example — please listen to our getting-acquainted episodes, especially #1 and 2. We produce a half-hour podcast twice a month, hopefully educational and inspiring for you, your family and your congregation or group. We blog several times a week.

Copyright: Creative Commons non-commercial attribution share-alike license.

1 Response to "Let’s Celebrate an Alternative St. Valentine’s Day"

[…] of Valentine’s Day and alternative ways to celebrate including reaching out to prisoners.   You know it is a trend…if Oprah is sharing it! Opra interviews and follows around a person […]

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