Friday, July 27, 2007

Marriage, How to Make it Work

Dear Lisa and Peter, (And Annie and Josh)

Disclaimer: Lisa and Peter are not a couple. Peter gets married on the 11th of August and Lisa gets married the 18th. Both are the adult children of my friends. I have been invited to as many weddings this summer as I was when I was 25 and my own friends were getting married. I appreciate weddings more now than I did then, but that's another story. (Annie and Josh are a couple.)

Your weddings are hard upon us and I wish you very happy wedding days. But that really doesn't matter at all. Wedding day disasters happen and apart from some surface emotion on the part of the bride and groom's parents it doesn't matter too much at all. (The bride and groom sometimes are not even informed that a disaster has occurred.) I myself was party, Lisa, to a near disaster at your mother and father's wedding. In 25 words or less, we had volunteered to engage the services of an accompanist for the ceremony. He was a great pianist. He lived in Philadelphia, an hour+ from the church. He was not dependable. Need I say more.

But, as I said, that doesn't matter because weddings don't matter. Marriages matter. We just celebrated the 60th anniversary of my parent's wedding. At their party I was asked to read a couple of things that they liked, which I had included in my own wedding ceremony. The first is a poem from George Herbert that was set to music by Ralph Vaughn Williams.

Love Bade Me Welcome

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything.

"A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here";
Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
"Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
"My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
So I did sit and eat.

This poem speaks of balance of Love and Guilt. More than you can imagine now, your lives will call upon Love, first one, now the nervous groom, and then the other, now the hopeful bride, to both Love and Forgive, Then Admit, and Submit to Forgiveness, To Serve without Rancour, to be Served Undeserved.

The other thing I read was this passage from the Bible, Song of Songs 8:6 and 7

Set me as a seal upon your heart,
As a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy as cruel as the grave;
Its flames are flames of fire,
A most vehement flame.

Many waters cannot quench love,
Nor can the floods drown it.
If a man would give for love
All the wealth of his house,
It would be utterly despised.

This is such a strange metaphor. Love strong as death. Yet is there anything we know stronger than the grip of death. It wields a permanency, a power over our lives and imaginations. But, here is the secret. Love is stronger than that.

Grow your love. Nuture it. Don't let it falter. For if love is healthy, it is stronger than death itself. I have used a term sometimes when talking about these things. "Deliberate desire." Desire can be a flippity gibbet, but one that can be controlled, and investment in your love is how to do that.

I could use some talk now about the centrality of our faith in all this. But you can say those words and do. Unfortunately, I think that Christian marriages fail as often as others. Live in love, act in love, commit to love, for God is love, and the other things, the precious fruits of a stable and happy marriage will be yours.

With all my best wishes,



Anonymous said...

Josh and Annie are getting married August 11 too!

brd said...

Yes, let me change this post!