Monday, August 19, 2013

Marriage promise

Their throbbing bodies joined together, urgently filling the empty spaces. Every instinct told them this was right, this was what they were made to do. The anxieties and the toils of their lives converged on this singular act, like grains of sand falling through the neck of an hourglass. It was joy, it was pain, it was rage, it was everything, the fullest expression of being on earth. All that came before and all that came after would be defined in relation to this moment.

Before even his breathing returned to normal, he got up and left. The world, full of unconquered animals, elements, and maidens, beckoned. He did not intend to see her again. No contract, real or implied, bound him to her. He was not responsible for the sexual bond he created with her and its potential issue. Like Santa Claus in the night, he had come and gone, spreading the gift of life from an ever-replenishing sack.

That luxury eluded her sex. She could not leave, for where would she leave to? The problem, if the gift could be called a problem, was inside her. Her womb was the soil, her body the nutrients in the soil. There was no leaving it for untrodden pastures. So she stayed put to prepare an outer womb when hers was outgrown, a nest. She felt guilt and shame for betraying her body, for asking for help from others after letting the culprit go. The community assured and supported her, but she knew she ultimately bore the burden of her child alone.

Along came another man, intent on her. She resisted him, fearful of being abandoned again, but he was patient. He was no roamer like the other one. What younger men searched for he had found. He knew who he was and his place in the world. He knew what he wanted. He wanted a future. He wanted her. He wanted to be responsible for her and the child. But still she did not trust him.

“What do I have to do to convince you?” he asked.

“Promise you’ll never leave me,” she said.

“I swear to you, I will die before I leave you.”

“Don’t swear to me. Swear to God.”

With that, she laid the final obstacle before him. He had to have faith. Life was going well for him now, but who could predict what would happen in a lifetime? He gravely feared the great, tumultuous forces their mortal souls might succumb to. He feared even more that he might fail to weather such storms.

He had to have faith. He had to believe in something greater than her, greater than their love, greater than life itself. To be worthy of this calling, he had to admit the fearsome truth of God into his soul.

“I do,” he said. And they were married.

In each other, the unmet ends of their lives closed. The marriage promise was the natural answer to their distinct, built-in sexual needs. She was comforted in knowing that she would never be done wrong by him. He made hard, hard sacrifices for the family, and she respected him for that. In her, he had the greatest supporter. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for him. He loved her dearly.

It rarely was easy. Faith made it work.

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