Sunday, February 3, 2013

One for All and All for One


 
And now these three remain:
faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13


 
In this month of Valentine's Day, let us consider love.  And marriage.  The whole "Two shall become one" phenomenon.  

Or is it more like one-and-a-half?  Or negative three?

When two people get engaged, love sounds easy. Idealistic.  As easy as I John 4:19:  "We love because he first loved us."  Two separate human beings will join lives and become this perfect single entity called a couple.  No problem.  It'll be a piece of cake.

The trouble is, my cakes always come out lopsided. Maybe that's why after years of marriage I still have to work at having this "oneness" happen on a regular basis.

It's not that my husband and I don't have our moments of one for all and all for one, like when we both miraculously agree to watch a M.A.S.H. rerun or both order chicken fingers with mashed potatoes at our favorite restaurant.  On occasion we'll even join forces to say no to a child.  At the same time. In answer to the same question (generally in answer to any question that begins with "Can I . . .?")  And there are the romantic times . . .

I suspect God had a more constant union in mind, one that is less hit-and-miss, something beyond couch- and mashed-potatoes.  A bonding.  A binding.  A mutual merging of mind and soul. 

And check books.  And schedules.  And . . .

There I go again, being practical. It's hard to think philosophically when the practical aspects of life continually raise their hands and demand our attention, thinking they know the answer to the question—
What was the question again?

Yet, in our quest to find the oneness of marital bliss, there's nothing wrong with being practical.  After all, life's rules, car pools, toilet stools, and garden tools take up ninety percent of our time.  We long for the extraordinary while knee-deep in the ordinary.  We want to embrace the high points because those are the times when we feel closest to our spouse. Even the low points draw us close. Our hearts bond and we need only look at each other for a thousand words to be spoken.  We are of one mind and soul.

But we can't stay on the mountaintop. The phone rings, a child cries, the schedule ticks on without mercy, and we are forced to leave the communion of oneness behind.

So it is with our spiritual lives.  We feel closest to God during the high and low points. Even unbelievers find God at such times—and quickly forget Him in the times in between.


Our daughter Laurel and her new husband Jake
It is those times in between that challenge our marriages and our faith. When the rest of the world is pulling us six ways, that's when it takes concerted effort to make contact with our spouse and with our God; to find communion among the chaos.

How special it is then, while knee-deep in those chaotic moments, when we suddenly remember:  I love him  or I love her.  During that brief recognition of  our love fresh thoughts of God break through, and for a moment, we forget our frenzied toils and think of Him. "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4: 18)

The highs and lows of life are inevitable and thrust upon us. Yet with practice we can create special times of communion among the mundane moments: as we sit next to our spouse at our son's baseball game, we can reach for their hand; when we're busy working on the yard we can pour two lemonades, pull our spouse out of weeding the flower beds, and sit on the front step and talk; when the M.A.S.H. reruns come on we can turn the television off, snuggle on the couch, and wallow in the silence. 

We can find the bond of oneness all around us if we search for it.  It's out there, like a firefly flitting past on the summer air.  For a split second we will see it.  We can let the chance for oneness fly by or with a little effort we can run after it, snatch it in our hands and carefully take a peek at its wonder; its beacon of light among the darkness.

When we do, we will also find God.  For He is there at the baseball game, among the flowerbeds, and in our silent home.  He is the firefly.  And His light glows for couples who've made a commitment to share a life.

"And two shall become one" . . .  In His perfection, the "two" of a couple become one with the Lord. 

Embrace the journey.

And each other.