Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Men speak of wonders & miracles, theophanies, manifestations of the divine in the world. Men want to lay hands on God, look him in the face as Moses longed to do, as Adam did, daily, before the Apple. With enough faith I imagine I could reach right through the veil and grab God by the arm. If I feel real optimistic (and stupid), I try it, anticipating my hand will disappear into holy dimensions not available to the average sinner. It never works.

On the other hand, God bursts like the streaming sun out of my wife every day, gives me a window on heaven. To be one with her, just to laugh together about the most mundane foolishness.....no-one could be more blessed than I. Could God love anyone more than to have given her to me? Maybe so, but it would strain my very capable imagination. Thank you, God, for this one. This one that I cleave to.

What a marvel to know that for yet another day, the quotidian reality of my marriage exceeds any fantasy I could contrive. Pretty much every minute I've been able to spend with her in the last 22 years I've spent doing things with her, it never occurring to me that the time could be better used. As Sinatra sings, "these precious days, I spend with you..." Odd that all our foibles (mine, mostly) don't matter, and marriage shows me how glibly I spent my time a single person. And every few months or so, love grows, gets palpably bigger, deeper, wider, stronger. Maybe she really is bone of my bone, and that'll be apparent when, like St. Paul says, I can see clearly.

God comes through my wife to me. All the goodness in her, the divine energy in us...it passes through, out into our children, out into the world. How incredible to be, with her, a single conduit of such powerful grace. And the kids, borne by her, opened my ears, turning God's faint whisper into a shout.

After all these years marriage now shapes my idea of heaven: if life with my wife, this transcendant fusion, is how God-in-me merges with God-in-her, then heaven will be just the same, but infinitely so. To be permanently separated would be to suffer Hell; to be separated for a limited time, Purgatory. Kind of amusing to at last understand why the Bible is shot through with marriage as the image of God and his people:

God marries Israel, the virgin daughter Zion.

Jerusalem is the LORD's bride:  "For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy builder marry thee; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee. The LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married."

Israel is the wayward wife of the LORD:  "Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD;  for I am married unto you...thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me."

The Church is Christ's eternal bride: "Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife."

"And I, John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."

"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come."

And the dearest part of Psalm 128, which is never more true than at Christmas dinner at our house:

"Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD."  Blessed, indeed.

When I count my blessings, I rarely count past one.