By Sarah Schrock

Known as the evening star, Venus is remarkably crisp and bright just after sunset this month in the western sky.  It is fitting then that Venus, goddess of romantic love, fertility, and all things sensual in Roman mythology, and mother of Cupid, is shining in the night sky mid-February as Valentine’s Day arrives.

The story goes that Cupid, the god of love, is so perfect in beauty he is masked from his mortal lover and wife, Psyche. She is warned to never view him unveiled. Venus, his mother, is jealous of the mortal’s beauty, as are her sisters, who believe Cupid to be concealing a dreadfulness behind his mask.

Egged on by her sisters, Psyche sneaks a peak of Cupid with his mask off during his sleep and inadvertently drips candle wax on his face, burning him. Psyche is banished for her disobedience and given four tasks for winning Cupid back, the last of which puts her in a deep slumber. Cupid, distraught by his lover’s slumber, rescues her and delivers her to Zeus, who turns her into a goddess of soul. This romantic love story inspired the imagery of Cupid, the god of love, who at times is pictured blind-folded, alluding to the allegory that love is blind and a popular symbol on Valentine’s Day.

The feast of St. Valentine, however, is a commemoration of more than one saint bearing the name Valentine.  The most famous was a Christian priest who illegally married couples against the order of the Roman Empire.  The empire had forbidden marriage in order to bolster its army. Valentine was jailed, sentenced to beheading, and upon the eve of his execution wrote a love letter to the jailer’s daughter, signed, “Your Valentine,” thus beginning the tradition of love letters.

Valentine was said to be buried on Feb. 14. Hundreds of years later, in the 1800s, the first Valentine card was mass-produced after centuries of traditions that celebrated romantic love were well underway throughout Europe and beyond. So, for those of you cynics out there who believe Feb. 14 to be a “Hallmark” holiday engineered by the retail sector to make us buy superfluous sweets and cards, its roots are much deeper.

On Saturday (Feb. 11), the tradition of sweets for your sweetie was made possible by the Dazzling Desserts fundraiser hosted at the Masonic Hall by members of the Calvary Chapel. Proceeds from the bake sale assist with basic needs for a girls’ home in rural Peru. The delicacies were beautifully displayed and wrapped, ready to be gifted. Homemade and delicious, the assorted plates make a great Valentine for the whole family. Look for the signs next year and spread some love.

Love, in its purest form, was on display at Little Star Montessori School on Friday evening when friends gathered in a celebration of love and light for Rayma Hayes, the school’s founder and surrogate grandma to hundreds of valley children (and now adults). Friends and families, some of whom are second-generation alumnae of Little Star, came together to show appreciation for Rayma’s legacy. With a spiral of candles, song, and communion of spirit, it was a small yet powerful gesture of gratitude and love for the woman, whose heart has touched the souls and minds of some many. (See photos below.)

The full moon is now waning, so keep an eye out for Venus and the other beacons of light and love in your life.  And keep sending in photos of your awesome icicles. So far, I have few entries, and I will select the best one(s) to put publish at the end of the month.

PREVIOUSLY, IN TWISP

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