Wednesday, March 23, 2011

an other...

I was reading The Mystery of Marriage: Meditations on the Miracle by Mike Mason and I decided that rather than try and summarize the concepts I'd be better off just typing some paragraphs up:

A marriage, or a marriage partner, may be compared to a great tree growing right up through the center of one's living room. It is something that is just there, and it is huge, and everything has been built around it, and wherever one happens to be going -- to the fridge, to bed, to the bathroom, or out the front door -- the tree has to be taken into account. It cannot be gone through; it must respectfully be gone around. It is somehow bigger and strong that oneself. True, it could be chopped down, but not without tearing the house apart. And certainly it is beautiful, unique, exotic: but also, let's face it, it is at times an enormous inconvenience.

So there are many things that can be said about one's life's mate, but finally, irrevoably, the one definite thing that needs to be said is that he or she is always there. And that, while it may be common enough in the world of trees, is among us human beings a rather remarkable state of affairs.

Marriage is the most persistent and ineluctable reminder of the presence of other people in the world: that they are there, that they are real, and that they are wildly different from the imaginary beings who normally people our thoughts and fantasies. To be married is to be confronted intimately day after day with the mystery of life, of other life, of life outside oneself.


It is an enormous source of human frustration that our need for intimacy far outsrips its capacity to be met in other people. 
…in each one of us the holiest and neediest and most sensitive place of all has been made and is reserved for God alone, so that only He can enter there. No one else can love us as He does, and no one can be the sort of Friend to us that He is.

Forming a relationship with us that is far deeper than anything we can possibly know among people is the way God has of challenging and inspiring us to year for this same divine dept in all of our human friendships. Were it not for the profound and intuitive knowledge of the Lord in our hearts, we could not know what depth of relationship is and would never miss or long for it on the human level.


To put it simply, marriage is a relationship far more engrossing that we want it to be. It always turns out to be more than we bargained for. It is disturbingly intense, disruptively involving, and that is exactly the way it was designed to be. It is supposed to be more, almost, than we can handle. It was meant to be a lifelong encounter that would be much more rigorous and demanding than anything human beings ever could have chosen, dreamed of, desired, or invented on their own. After all, we do not even choose to undergo such far-reaching encounters with our closest and dearest friends. Only marriage urges us into these deep and unknown waters. For that is its very purpose: to get us out beyond our depth, out of the shallows of our own secure egocentricity and into the dangerous and unpredictable depths of a real interpersonal encounter.

*And that, incidentally, is also what true religion is supposed to do. It is supposed to remind us that God is not an idol of our own making, not a human invention, not a concept or a theory or a projection or extension of ourselves, not a tool (any more than a marriage partner is a tool). No, the bizarre fact of the matter is that God, while invisible, really is THERE -- OUT THERE, beyond our wildest dreams. He is a living Being with PERSONHOOD, a true Other whom we can know with all the full-color intimacy and immediacy (and even more!) with which we know ourselves and the person we love, and with which we sense that we are known in return. To know the Lord is to be brought into a personal relationship so dramatic and overwhelming that marriage is only a pale image of it. Still, marriage is the closest analogy in earthly experience, and that is why the Bible so often uses the picture of a wedding, and of the bride and groom, to convey something of what it means for human beings to be united to God in love.

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