Behind the Vows

I remember being at a wedding last November (ironically, it was on the 14th which was the 6 year anniversary of the day Rob and I celebrated our own wedding), sitting outside on that gorgeous fall day, watching two of our friends exchange vows. While listening to the sermon and reflecting on my own marriage to the man whose hand I was holding, the minister said something that fell on my ears in a new way. He called marriage a mystery. I caught that phrase in my mind and let it swallow me whole; I had never heard of or even thought of marriage being a mysterious identity before. To me, marriage was transparent. It’s something you become, no only to your spouse but to everyone else. You wear a ring to represent the commitment you made and the promises that you uphold and that ring is visible for the world to see. You take a new last name, you become a “we” and you embark on a life of decisions made in union. And everything about the marriage should be transparent too. No secrets, no boundaries, no separate spaces. Nothing, I thought, about any of those components, leaves us wondering. But as I mingled with that new concept over the next several days, I realized that if you change the perspective of the thought and you become the observer of the union instead of a participant, it can provoke your senses and ideas in new and refreshing ways.

A few weekends ago, I watched as another couple we are close with get married. They waited faithfully for one another and pursued each other with a very specific and passionate fervor. And I literally got to watch as they went from being one way unto themselves, into a new way together, which for them in particular was truly transforming. And I found myself thinking about them a lot the week of their honeymoon. Bear with me folks, but in a lot of ways I found myself wishing I could peek in on them and observe. Watch the little nuances that emerge that don’t exist for anyone else but each other. Listen to the new ways they talk to each other, and watch as their behaviors begin to take new shape and new meaning. That’s like watching a flint strike steel to make that first spark; a burst of life and light and hope.IMG_0384

  1. 1.
    something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain.

Paul talks about mystery in Ephesians Chapter 5. Well, he only mentions it in one sense, but speaks more of marriage instead and parallels it to the relationship Christ has with the Church; with the collective we. When I had this profound thought about marriage being mysterious, and realized I wanted to write about it, I couldn’t quite figure out to talk through it in that sense though. It’s not that I don’t believe Paul’s point is so critical, because it is, but I wanted to explore another side of this idea.  To recognize and regard marriage as a higher thing. A distinctiveness that is not one dimensional, transparent or flat in any way. But instead, hold it high up into the direct light and study it. And marvel at it. And appreciate all of its layers and color, not only unto us, but in others. Because so many times, that’s where the lesson is. And shouldn’t we pause long enough to take in beauty, to learn from it? And I realize now that so much of what makes marriage beautiful in the first place IS the mystery in it!

I know this marriage, and it’s as sincere and lovely as it looks in this photo- And oh so mysterious. [Paul/Melissa Daigle]
There is so much to be discovered in the subtle nuances between two people who know each other intimately. Body language, ease (or friction), behavior modification, and hearing the way they speak to each other. And it’s an opus that is written over time; it certainly doesn’t start out as a completed work of art. It begins with one note, one thread. And every day you have the opportunity to weave another thread into this tapestry you are creating with someone else; blending colors and designs to create the best representation possible. And with each addition, there is a reason behind it. And that’s the secret that no one else knows but you two. It’s a sacred prize that you and only you have won and how incredible is that!

I think about all of the starts and stops to certain things we experienced in our own marriage, some trivial, some important. Who is going to feed the cat in the morning and who is going to empty the dishwasher (both Rob). How to approach hard choices and decisions and when to learn to let things go and ride it out. You learn who is stronger at certain things and who is better suited to lead or follow depending on the path. It’s like breathing really, an in and out rhythm that is always occurring but that you rarely notice. 99% of the time, you don’t have to think about it at all, and you continue to live and thrive.  And yet, this process you don’t even notice is critical to your life. This process is what is most fascinating to me to watch unfold and develop in others. It’s really amazing how two people can find one another in this great big world and make a life work together; bringing each of their own ideas and feelings to the proverbial fire pit, throwing them all in together and then sifting through the ashes when it’s all burned up to figure out what’s left to work with together. Take that material and build the foundation that works for you, that honors the other, and that promotes insane joy. Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

Every day, I want to nurture the mystery in my own marriage. I want to always remember that it’s one of a kind and my seat in it is reserved for me and me alone. And I want you to remember that about yours too.

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
-ee cummings

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