For many, Valentine’s Day means expressing affection in the forms of chocolates, flower bouquets and dinner dates. Yet, for more than 50 Unificationist couples, Valentine’s Day plans this year will be but a preparation for the “Cosmic Blessing” ceremony that will take place two days after on Saturday, February 16, 2013 at The Grove in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. Unificationnews.com asked for testimonies from several of these couples on what Valentine’s Day 2013 means to them.
Roderick Miller, 24, a resident of Wilmington, Delaware and a third-year student at Harvard Law School, was recently matched to Jeanina Hardman, 24, from the Bay Area in California. He said, “We'll be spending most of Valentine's day taking the bus down to Delaware from Boston so that we can prepare for the Blessing ceremony in New Jersey on Saturday. The plan is to sit next to each other and eat chocolate for most of the way, so it should be very romantic.
In speaking about how being a Unificationist has affected his attitude towards Valentine’s Day, Miller said: “I think that, for many people, Valentine's Day is an opportunity to celebrate a certain type of romantic love that can be passionate but is often short-lived. As a Unificationist who is about to be Blessed, I now look at Valentine's day as an opportunity to celebrate my committed heart and love for the person with whom I want to spend the rest of my eternal life.”
Some couples have even decided to postpone Valentine’s Day celebrations until after the Blessing. “We have decided to develop our relationship slowly, and we want our first Valentine’s Day to be very special, where we're each deeply in love,” Maryland-resident Kester Wilkening, 22, said of himself and his bride-to-be, Jana Iparraguirre, 21, from Clifton, New Jersey. “We're still getting to know each other as friends, developing the brother-sister heart, and we're saving romantic gestures for 40 days after the Blessing. Simply put, we're choosing to have February 14, 2014 be our first real Valentine’s Day together.”
Along the same lines, Nadia Swenson, 23, from Libertyville, Illinois and Mira Williams, 24, from Rutland, Massachusetts have planned a “V-Day honeymoon” the following weekend at a ski resort in Massachusetts because they will spend the 14th traveling to attend the Blessing in New Jersey on Saturday.
“Before I was matched to Mira, I still always looked forward to celebrating V-Day because I always felt that I had someone to celebrate it with – my family and friends,” said Swenson. “Non-Unificationists with whom I went to school were either looking for some guy to spend V-Day with or just depressed because they thought they had no one. I never felt depressed because I didn't have a boy; I was always happy to give and get cute little cards and/or lots of chocolate to/from my family and friends on that day. It feels amazing and so special to be able to celebrate Valentine's Day with Mira. We love giving each other cheesy/adorable/sweet Valentine's Day cards and saying ‘I love you’ as many times as we can throughout the day.”
Emily Zochol from Orange Country, New York, shared with Unificationnews.com the story of how she met her match, Matthew Kise, from Syracuse, New York at the Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP) Winter Gala in December of 2011.
“I was amazed, because the night I met him, I drove away knowing that somehow I would end up married to him,” she said, continuing: “I am generally a realist and not prone to believing ‘love at first sight’ stories, but when I met Matt, I knew in my heart that I had met the ‘one’ even though our first conversation had nothing to do with the Matching or anything deep. I just felt my soul at ease. The gala ended with Matt asking for my number because he didn't have a Facebook or any other way to stay in touch. Within the next few days, we had both talked to our parents and were ‘talking’ the Blessing. We both felt the Matching process was important and wanted to follow the advised steps with no regrets. Throughout the last year, Matt and I have gone through an amazing path of exploring each other and diving into each other’s complexity. I knew from the moment I met him that he and I were meant to be, but it has been a phenomenal experience watching how it has fallen into place. As I continue to get to know him, it is amazing to see how God has packaged everything I needed into one person – something I thought was impossible. I came to learn through this experience that God will always take care of you even if it isn't in the way you planned. Our families are wonderful together, and our relationship really feels like a new beginning for the both of us.”
Zochol and Kise currently live in Bridgeport, CT, where Kise works at Bridgeport International Academy as a physical-education instructor and Zochol works in a private school as a high school math teacher. Their Valentine’s Day plans are to buy Kise a ring for the Blessing.
“He proposed to me this summer and gave me a gorgeous ring of sapphires and diamonds, so I want to get him a ring he can wear after the Blessing,” said Zochol. “We decided we are going to go out and have a nice dinner if we can. Bridgeport is currently a winter wonderland with very few streets plowed. The Blessing is more our focus this week, honestly. Both Matt and I have had our unique courses that have led us to the Blessing and these paths have given us a true appreciation for what the Blessing means to us. I am so looking forward to standing next to him that day.”
Julie Owens, 23, from New Jersey says that she will spend Valentine’s Day with her match, Rohika Wagner, 22, from Chicago in Central Park, New York, even though she has work and Wagner has school that day. Owens first met Wagner at the Learning Center at 43rd Street in New York when Wagner was part of the service program, Special Task Force, now known as Generation Peace Academy.
“Rohika and I danced once, and I couldn't stop staring at him for some reason,” said Owens. “For the next two years, we both randomly thought of each other but never talked. We saw each other again in August at the Blessed Culture and Sports Fest at Unification Theological Seminary, and we started talking every day after that on Facebook and Skype. We met up in Washington, D.C. for a few hours, and told our parents we wanted to get Matched to each other. We both did a few conditions to see if God wanted us together, and we all felt that God approved. As Unificationists, we view Valentine's Day as a day we save for our spouse. Growing up, we weren't able to ask about our crushes as freely as non-Unificationists do. I'm looking forward to celebrating Valentine's Day now – it’s like celebrating Christmas as a child. It's new and exciting.”