Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Sunday, June 26, 2005

In Sickness and in Health

Yesterday my nephew's wedding unfolded in the hills just north of the Golden Gate Bridge (where my daughter and I ran on Saturday morning...just one of those things I wanted to do before I die!). Every wedding has it's own moments of power, and this one had several, but the most powerful thing that occured for me was in watching the relationship of my mother in-law and father in-law. He has alzhimers, and as a result, struggles with being disoriented, and forgets everything, both future plans and recent events. The questions, his own struggles with knowing that he doesn't know something, and the general anxieties of wondering how the disease will unfold all serve to take their toll. But I want you to know that, in the midst of this enormous trial, the two of them continue to demonstrably love each other.

It's not the demonstration of passions associated with youth and health, but the demonstration of loyalty and sacrifice, borne of commitment and compassion and honor. It's the manifestation of a depth of love that can only be seen when refined by the trials of fire. There is she is, watching out for him, caring for him in countless small and large ways. Somehow, the cumulative effect of those thousand acts of mercy, carried out with grace and patience, was the love that blessed me the most over the weekend - and the love that challenged me.

I glanced at the two of them, gray haired in the front row, while vows were being spoken. "In sickness and in health" the young and vibrant bride and groom both said. Of course, I now know that nobody understands exactly what that means when those vows are offered. But I wanted to stand up shout: "If you want to know what faithfulness looks like, look at that couple in front row! Those grandparents are living it out for you."

Ours is a world that has defined beauty cosmetically. And while it's legitimate to rejoice in the beauty of creation (Psalm 19) and the beauty of the human body (Song of Songs) and the beauty of good music, or good coffee (OK - no verses for these but give me a break, they are their own forms of beauty), we need to work hard at recovering and exalting the beauty of things like faithfulness and fidelity, servanthood and mercy. Because when you see these things, you can't help but be reminded of Christ.


At 1/7/05 19:46, Anonymous Kim said...

I don't believe I truly understood the power - or maybe even the purpose - of marriage until I began to witness the unfolding comfort of companionship it brings to an aging couple. I've watched this develop beautifully between my inlaws and, of course, my grandparents (YOUR inlaws). There's obviously much to learn from the unglamourous love of the gray-haired marriages in our lives. I think the most powerful lesson for me has been that a couple has to trust its instincts. It has to rest on the hidden wisdom of its youth and know that that original decision to marry was a sound one, worthy of the trust, faithfulness, respect, and compassion that makes "in sickness and in health" seem doable. I, too, saw that love and devotion in my grandparent's eyes last weekend - what a beautiful model of "best friends for life." As always, they're my heros. :)


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