Tag Archives: marriage

Passions: Stoking the Embers

SplitShire-0447

I’ve been to a wedding celebration. The bride and groom were delighted in each other, and obviously oblivious to most of what was going on around them. They held hands during speeches, whispered to each other, had that unconscious radar tracking and alignment to wherever their beloved happened to be if not in arms reach, and a stunned awareness that they were finally married.

It was beautiful to see, such hope and passion and excitement sizzling between them. The bride and groom danced, fingers Morse-coding messages against hips, lips, faces, the first couple yet again to discover the hum of passion and sparking delight.

It was also beautiful to see the seasoned couples at my table, each laughing and murmuring to each other as we swapped jokes and conversation between announcements and courses. The full, smiling attention of a wife to her husband as he gave a speech, the gentle clasp of hands under the table after a joke, the sharing of dessert, a wife repeating unheard words into a whiskered, tilted ear.

There was the roaring, emerging flame of a love recently created and newly sanctified before us, and the enduring, patient embers of experienced passion gathered around to celebrate and bear witness. I warmed myself, the bride and groom leaving bright spots of joy before my eyes, while the sincere heat of the settled couples soaked deeper in, warm air stirring up ashes as I returned home.

You can’t have a conversation with the empty half of your bed. You can pretend, but it’s not the same as having a hand available to hold at three o’clock on the morning, just a finger’s stretch away. I remember the fire and sparkle of new passion, the way a first kiss becomes a language in a story yet untold. It’s a giddy time, tripping along heart beats and held breaths, all excitement and discovery, but it’s the embers that I miss.

The embers, those ruby throated coals, which have danced and thrilled before in the flash and burn of passion and delight, when all is youth and beauty, lace and enthusiasm, and have survived to catch a breath. The breath and tumble that comes with kids, or career, or both, with the frantic, shuddering bellows of watching a parent die, or burying a loved one, and holding on to each other and your breath in the same terrible moment. The embers, looking dark but billowing heat, grown from putting the lid on the toothpaste for the seven thousandth time, and distracted conversations, and pillowed laughter at midnight and arguments in the car. Embers that grow as thick and deep as lava, from loving another impossible, incredible, bizarre individual every single day even when and especially when they drive you crazy and they – for some deep, fathomless reasons – love you back even when you’re your real cracked and fragile self.

There’s the obvious, dizzying flash of heat, the sizzle, the unsteady grab for balance and air of early love and attraction, but the sustained, deliberate power of established, active passion and mutual compassion leaves it as dust. In each of us there is a light that cannot be hid, a desire for warmth that never goes out. May we all ignite, burn and coalesce into enduring, sincere passion.

What does passion mean to you? What words do you use to compare new/old love and passion? What do you do to appreciate (stroke) and build (stoke) your passions?

When Home is Not a Haven

Free image: Antique Residence Door

One summer evening, my mission companion and I were in the plaza near our apartment attempting to do some street contacting. A woman approached us and asked “do you think you can you help me?” I looked up at her and noticed that she had a black eye, a bandaged nose, and bruises down one arm. A man was holding her by the elbow, glowering at both of us. My heart sank–I hoped she had recently been in a car accident, but feared that something much worse was going on. I had no idea how I should respond, especially as a missionary in a foreign country working in a language and culture that weren’t my own. My companion and I briefly talked with the woman and exchanged phone numbers with her before the man guided her away and she disappeared into the crowd. When we tried the phone number she had given us, we found that it had been disconnected. This woman and her face still pop up in my mind from time to time, and fifteen years later I wonder if there really was anything I could have done to help her.

A few weeks ago, By Common Consent published a post about the recent Ray Rice domestic violence scandal, asking what we can do about domestic violence and abuse within our Church congregations. Some who commented expressed surprise that the author of the post implied that every ward of the Church has at least one “Ray Rice” in it; I agree that this particular extrapolation of statistics may not be fully correct and hope that there isn’t someone in every ward who regularly beats their spouse into unconsciousness. However, I’ve also seen enough situations to know that abuse takes many forms and Church members are not immune. Think about the following scenarios for a moment: Continue reading

leaning out, leaning in, leaning on each other

I was pregnant with my first child and in graduate school when I read Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. As I listened to my classmates, mostly older mothers, talk at length about the sense of malaise they’d felt when their kids were young, I thought it would never happen to me. I would never fall prey to “the problem that has no name.” I was educated. I had chosen to become a mother, so certainly I would not be one of those women who ferried cub scouts all day and lay in bed at night wondering, “‘Is this all?'”

Fifteen years later, it’s my preoccupying worry.

A few years ago, I won a writing contest, and got a check for $50 in the mail. I didn’t want to cash it; I wanted to frame it. It’s the only time I’ve ever made money for my writing. It was both incredibly gratifying to be paid and a little bit depressing to see that the sum total of years of my work is less than my husband could make in an hour.  Marriage isn’t a competition– I know that. But it still rankles. Continue reading

The Boggart in My Closet

Crazy Cat LadyIn the world of Harry Potter, a boggart is a shape-shifting creature that hides in enclosed spaces like closets or cabinets. When released, the boggart takes on the shape of its victim’s worst fear. At school, Harry and his friends battle boggarts that look like giant spiders, disappointed teachers, or bloody mummies; in one particularly poignant scene towards the end of the series, Molly Weasley confronts a boggart that keeps turning into each of her family members dying, in turn. I’ve got a boggart in my closet, and it seems to change shape too. Sometimes it looks like the crazy cat lady from The Simpsons, spouting gibberish and flinging cats at anyone who tries to approach her. Other days I think it might be Eponine, patron saint of lonely third-wheels perpetually stuck in the friend zone. Perhaps it’s Miss Havisham, moldering away in her wedding dress. Continue reading

“We Will!”

Lapis Lazuli ring o' love

Lapis Lazuli ring of love

I am a proponent of having friends and family of all ages, faiths and “worthiness-es” join to support and celebrate marriages on the wedding day. There is something moving and profound in answering “We will!” when an officiator asks the gathered crowd, “Will all of you witnessing these vows do all in your power to support these two and their marriage?” Regardless of what you send the couple off their registry, this communal commitment to support and sustain their marriage with them is the best wedding present of all.

That feels absolutely right to me.

A recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune mentioned the prospect that soon LDS couples in North America may not have to wait a year between having a civil wedding and their temple sealing. This is standard in most other areas of the international church.

Hallelujah, I say. This adds a dimension of honor to the couple’s promises for this life – and their covenants beyond time.

So with all this joy, hope and love in the air, I offer you a little literary frolic. It’s a non-rhyming poetic puzzle which provides the answer to the question:

 When Did Vincent Finally Commit?

Vincent vanished into the vault, vowing to return with valuables.
Amanda, annoyed at his absence, altered her attitude when, at
Last, laden with lapis lazuli, he lavishly locked lip to lip with her.
Encircling his enamorata with embraces, he exclaimed while
Nestling a nice nugget over her knuckle, “En-
Twine with me th’eternal tendrils of your timelessness,
In integrity, ingenuity and imagination – both in illness and inoculation – in perpetuity
Never to nick off to nether lands, nor nag nor niggle nor canoodle with another.
Ever.

Sighing, she said,

“Darling, I DO!”
And
“Yes! Yes! Yes!”