On this Valentine’s Day let me let you into, if not a secret, a little known fact; Cyrenians, at least the original ones (i.e. the citizens of Cyrene) were the originators of the heart shaped symbol for love which will appear on millions of cards across the globe today.
Apparently all around Cyrene, an ancient Greek city in North Africa, grew a fennel like plant called Silphium which was widely used in a variety of herbal remedies, cooking and as an early form of both aphrodisiac and oral contraception.
Its pods were heart shaped and their image was imprinted on Cyrene local currency, which is where the use of the image as a symbol of love began. Today Silphium is extinct – probably because it had become so valuable it was over harvested by the Romans who unfortunately at the same time could not work out how to cultivate more of the precious plant and it grew nowhere else in the world.
What’s the moral of this tale – perhaps the truth of it; if you don’t take care of something you value in ways other than selling it off, in the end you will lose it. Or understanding a transaction is not the same as a relationship. It only lasts until the next one. And more fundamentally a product or a possession is not who you are; the really significant things of life can never be bought.
I do like the idea of a close connection between Cyrenians and the love heart. Everything we do is built on the quality of relationships we create; not of the romantic type of course, but still deeply human at their core. We are not simply the provision of professional services, fundamental as that is and as professional as we strive to be, but we are also about the shaping and sharing of human experiences in and of relationship – journeys of transformation for everyone we travel with.
At Cyrenians we believe in the power of trusted relationships as the driver of change for us all. The journey from exclusion to inclusion is an inner journey first and foremost; a journey of heart and soul, not in a religious sense but in a real, human sense of connection with self and others. It is the deepest of relationships, whether or not they are romantic, where we find out who we really are, the meaning we all seek and the hope we share.
Happy Valentine’s Day
14th February 2018