Last week I beheld something so beautiful it just about took my breath away. I had seen it for many years, but this time it was as if for the first time because I beheld it in a new light, given the circumstances. It was the 65th wedding anniversary celebration of two dear friends at which I saw the beauty of love. I have always known they were deeply in love, continually, throughout all those years. All one needs is to hear a family story that one of them might tell, and it is clear that there is great love and that there has been much laughter. But at this event the light that shone in each one's eyes as they looked upon the other was filled with deep joy, and was unmistakably the look of deep love. They positively glowed!
I believe this couple was in love the moment they met, but no matter the details, I got to know them well into their marriage, probably for the past 18 or 19 years. Every time I have been visiting with my dear friend and her husband arrives home from work, she gets a twinkle in her eyes, eyes which usually have quite a sparkle in them already. And when he speaks about her, his eyes take on that twinkle also. There is no doubt in my mind that they have grown in love every day of their marriage. In some ways, that look of newlyweds is still with them, but indeed it has deepened and matured over years of trial and blessing, tears and laughter.
What makes a marriage like this, a love so great that it not only endures for 65 years, but flourishes? What comes to mind is that they are friends with each other. As friends they trust each other and have total respect for each other. Every marriage has its bumps in the road, but if the husband and wife are friends, they look for the best and bring out the best in each other. In a marriage such as theirs, communication is part of the foundation. Openness and honesty help to foster such a trust and respect.
In this marriage, it is clear that they each delight in doing little things for each other. Rather than waiting for a holiday, they try to do something special for the other on "ordinary" days. Whether he is bringing in a bouquet of flowers from his garden for her, or whether she is making a special meal for him, everything is done with love. And when they disagree - and every married couple does disagree from time to time - they have learned the art of forgiveness which is nurtured by their underlying trust and love.
It should come as no surprise that both of these people have great faith in God. It is in this that their strength and love finds its wings. They do more than attend church faithfully every weekend. They love the Lord, and because of this they have spent their lives in service of others at their church, and they have lived what they profess to believe. Both of them have touched countless lives by being people of faith in deed and in word. And they find their joy in the gratitude they have for everything with which God has blessed them. They have joy in their family, which includes children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren; they find joy in their friends, and mostly they find joy in each other, strengthened through the gift of the Sacrament of Marriage, which is the grace which has sustained them these many years.
The Sacrament of Marriage is a covenant which is modeled upon the covenant God has with His people. A covenant is an eternal commitment of love between God and His people and it is based on love. Since God is love, all that He has made comes from love. His love is seen in the great beauty which exists all around us. He has promised to be our God and that we are His people, loving us throughout salvation history. This love culminated in our Father God, sending His Son, who is Love incarnate, into the world to save us from the power of sin and death by dying and rising for us. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life." (John 3:16)
Therefore God continues to be in a covenant with each one of us through baptism and through every sacrament in which we strengthen this covenant. When we marry we enter into a covenant with our spouse, but the covenant also includes God who is present through love. He is the center of every marriage and it is His grace which enables the couple to confer the sacrament upon one another. It is most important for us to remember that the grace of the sacrament is conferred not only at the moment in the wedding ceremony when we make our vows: it is to be conferred in each and every moment of our lives together "until death do we part."
While marriage is a covenant for the rest of our earthly lives, love lives eternally. Love overcomes the boundaries of this life on earth. It is Love who gave us life; it is Love who sustains our lives and it is Love who welcomes us home to Heaven when we finish our lives here. While we are no longer bound by the covenant of marriage in Heaven, we are never out of our covenant of love with God. Heaven is the realm of love, so all those loves we have had are one in Him. They do not end; rather they become perfected and immersed more totally in the "sea of love", who is our God.
From my 65-years-married friends we can see that this is the way that God intended us to be in relationship with Him. Whether we are married or not, we can have that kind of love. God wants us to share this not just with other people, be it a spouse, a dear friend, or a relative; He wants us to share this kind of love with Him. He wants us to get that sparkle in our eyes when we think of Him. After all, God gets that twinkle in His eye when He thinks of us! If you think that is bold of me to say, remember that while none of us have ever seen God face to face, He gives us so many loving touches daily, we know that He delights in each and every one of us. He loves us beyond what any of us can fathom. He thinks of us nonstop day and night. He loves it when we spend time with Him throughout our day, and when we share our inmost thoughts, hopes, dreams, and that for which we yearn, He holds it dear to His heart. And when we are hurting or lonely, He is most present to us; when we need Him most, He is closest to us. His love for us is without end. The most wonderful, incredible, everlasting, unfathomable force in creation is His love for us. There is nothing more beautiful in the heavens or on earth. God Himself is love and in that love is incomparable beauty.
I have learned much from my 65-years-married friends. They have taught me of great beauty. Their love is magnificent in its depth and in the beauty of what it has produced in each other, in their family, and in everyone who has ever met them. They have taught me of God in both word and deed. I know they are not perfect and their marriage is not perfect, since there are no perfect people. But the beauty that emanates from the love of this couple is about as close to the perfect love of God as I have ever witnessed. They are clearly as in love as they ever were, and it is a beauty to behold. It is also a gift to be loved by these two incredible people. Their friendship and wisdom have blessed many lives, not the least of which is mine. God bless you both with many more years of love and happiness!
May we see the delight God takes in us each day by becoming more aware of the graces He sends us! May our hearts burn with love for our Creator so that we may yearn to be with Him forever! May we have that twinkle in our eye, which is the sign of our love for whoever is that special someone in our lives! May we have hearts filled with gratitude for the way God gifts us with those who love us! And may we celebrate love every day! Let us meet in the unending celebration of Love which dwells in the very heart of our God! Peace!
Love to you, Joanne and Bernard!
All three photos are mine. The first one is of my parents wedding rings on my Bible. The second photo is a painting of God the Father, with the Spirit above and the symbol for the reign of His Son in His hand. It is from a church in Nova Scotia, Canada. And the third was taken in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Heart Speaks to Heart