“He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.”
Sometimes being human is a difficult balancing act: when to act, when to wait; when to be independent and when to accept assistance; when to chart our own path or remember that it’s God’s story and stop anxious striving.
I recently watched a video entitled “Kosher Love” about a Jewish matchmaker, the “love rabbi,” as he counseled a young couple. The wife said the rabbi had made such a good match: it was like her husband “must have existed, and then I made the list.” God had given her everything she’d asked for, but she was upset because if she didn’t think of it, it looked like He hadn’t thought to include it. It was difficult to understand the problem!
Her question, perplexing as it was, really was about romance in a life that follows society’s script. What does it mean to have a soulmate? Matchmaking could help in the recipe, but it could only go so far. The rabbi’s response was that she was looking for something that didn’t exist except in Hollywood movies, but she challenged him on that, because she thought of it as a legitimate human need.
Like poetry, love’s connecting spark does need a form, but its essence is as elusive as a butterfly. Because it’s a spiritual gift of God, not something that can be summoned up or scheduled. You can only create the right conditions, be present and open to its ephemeral appearance. Spirit-filled love can’t be predicted, controlled, or trapped. And gives us the same privilege. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
What’s true of marriage is also true of faith. Rules and rituals and planning are good and necessary in a society, but without love, rigid adherence to the letter of the law can kill spontaneity and joy. Someone may be technically faithful to spouse or faith traditions, but withhold and refuse to engage within that relationship.
Love goes beyond duty to delight in the unexpected, the surprise, the extra mile. Human beings need that transcendence, need that light-hearted fun and laughter and connection. How wonderful that our God is a God of abundance and creativity who far exceeds all our desires and hopes, “able to do far more than we can ask or imagine.”
Sometimes it isn’t until we look back over many years that we see that it was all grace. We’re been surprised by joy, like C. S. Lewis, and “romanced” by our Lord, Lover of our soul.