I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage recently.
First, we had a wedding at St. Andrew’s that was called off just weeks before the big day. The couple discerned that what had seemed like a right and good and joyful thing wasn’t right for them, at least not now. I can’t imagine how hard the decision must have been for them, but I have great respect for their maturity in putting the brakes on a process that, too often, seems to have the momentum of a train that can’t be stopped.
Then came yesterday, the 19th wedding anniversary for Ann and me. As we sat with the kids at the table last night (the two of us will celebrate another evening), they asked about the dozen roses in the vase in front of us. All the roses are red but one, which is white; and they asked why. I said it stood for the new life that’s created when two people come together and let God make them one at the deepest level of their being. For Ann and me, the details of our life together certainly haven’t turned out as we might have expected 19 years ago – a little bit of tragedy and a lot more unexpected blessing. But through it all, the new creation of the marriage grows and thrives.
And then I look at the calendar and remember that my parents’ anniversary will be this Sunday – 57 years of marriage. I can’t even begin to imagine how that feels. But I do know their white rose has incredibly deep roots.
“The bond and covenant of marriage” may not sound terribly attractive to many in our culture, given the premium we put on the Gospel of Me. Living for ourselves sounds like freedom, and we’re all about that. But, ironically, to give up this kind of freedom returns to us a much greater gift: being rooted in the soil of God’s love, with souls entwined, becoming so much more than we can be on our own.
It’s amazing the rose God can make of us when we give ourselves away.