Love in hard times

Valentine’s Day is often associated with romantic love, with idealistic images of the perfect relationship and societal pressure to impress one’s partner with extravagant (often unrealistic) gift-giving.

This is societal adoption of a Christian Saint Day, and has little to nothing to do with the origins of the day. Saint Valentine was a real person – a priest – who lived in Rome and was martyred on February 14 in AD 269. He exemplified love during hard times and his example is one of the main reasons he is associated with love in many expressions (romantic love included).

In times of challenge, it’s important to stay connected (reconnect or even discover) our faith and spirituality: to explore what we believe; to ask questions; to be supported as we explore these questions. And to be helped as we love during hard times; times of illness, times of challenge, times of change, times of loss.

Here at the hospice, the Retreat is a key place for patients, staff, and families to engage with and explore their faith or spirituality during hard times. As well as sacred texts, books, prayer rugs and prayer kneelers, there are comfortable chairs and beautiful fabric hearts crafted by the St Wilfrid’s WI. These pairs of hearts were donated to us by the WI during the pandemic. At an incredibly difficult time they allowed patients and their families to feel connected even when they could not be physically together.

The hearts have continued to be used to connect patients and family members both in the community and in out Inpatient Ward. Our wider team, including our Social Workers, Counsellors and Spiritual Support Lead often use the hearts to support patients and families, but they are also freely available for anyone who would get comfort from them. This small act means a lot to patients at the end of their life, and it is often small acts such as this which make a big difference.

The Retreat is open on Saint Valentine’s Day and all the days of the year. Anyone of any faith or none is welcome to visit for prayer, meditation, or a quiet moment of reflection.

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