Ring Around the Rainbow (John 13:34, 35 I John 3:4)
Ring around the rainbow
Circle round the moon
Dreams at dizzy distances
Starlight full to swoon
Will they come to find us
Beneath this wooded glade
While dark the dewdrops glisten
None close enough to listen
Our names so right to christen
Their hope so long betrayed?
But my mouth has turned to water
And your voice is set to rust
Still among the sons and daughters
There is nothing to discuss
So come and lay beside me
Help me catechize the rain
Weíll cast our skin against the sky
Disturbing spirits on the fly
The time has passed to question why
They thought we were insane
ďThe supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved.Ē
Les Miserables, Victor Hugo.
Think about the first time you fell in love. I mean really fell in love. My guess, it was just that; like walking down the street and not noticing the open manhole. And there you go: Freefall with no thought that there could possibly be a rude awakening on the other end. And still most people spend the rest of their lives trying to get back to that moment in the same way a heroin addict spends years attempting to recapture that first sensation of falling twenty stories in an elevator shaft.
A few are lucky. But while most married folk will tell you that relationships get better as the years go on, the way they treat and talk to each other seems to invalidate much of their testimony.
At loveís first blush it was, I donít need the popcorn love. Iíll be satisfied licking the butter off your fingers. Later, most men are with the boys watching Rambo 9 trying to convince those single among them that marriage really is a many splendored thing while their wives are at home alone crying to Steel Magnolias for the sixth time.
Yes, I know this is cynical and not every marriage winds up in such dreadful shape, but enough do that only Dr. Laura Schlessinger is willing to talk about it. So if you happen to be one of the lucky ones to have a spouse that you really do want to spend the rest of your life with; consider yourself blessed and try not to judge those less fortunate.
Sin, we must take into account, generates a powerful force field and even some of the very best intentions have been waylaid by its terrible strength. And because these particular sins of relationship donít respect the bounds of faith, good and bad marriages can be found anywhere from Anglicans to atheists.
Part of the problem is that many of the seeds of failure have taken root in our unconscious heart long before weíve reached the tender age of five. And you should know by now that while psychiatrists make a wonderful living exploring these regions, it is only the Creator who can get down in there deep enough to offer the needed nature-change. But even after sitting through a couple semesters in that particular class, we still want to know, Why is it taking so long? Well, itís because Godís giving is always perfect and our receiving is always something less than that. We are by nature more of a process than a project.
When I was a young man I hated everything about the winter Olympics except the ice hockey. Even not knowing the rules, the occasional fights could put me on the edge of my chair. After being married to a woman who could ice-skate, I reluctantly began sitting on the couch with her to watch the pairs and ice dance competitions. This went on for years, and to my chagrin I found myself enjoying not only my wifeís enthusiasm but mine as well. Then one day it landed like that well-known ton of bricks. Whatís happened to me? I remember thinking. And less than a second later the answer appeared. That man and woman on TV had endured thousands of hours of hard practice; injury and tears to produce a performance that made it all look almost easy. Their grace and poise were astounding. With a mere two percent fat on their sleek bodies and less on their determination, the sheer compatibility of these two human beings bordered on the impossible. And I knew in that moment that I was witnessing a masterful study in the power of persistence. Now wouldnít it be nice if outsiders looking through the windows of our marriages and churches could draw those same conclusions?
When Jesus made an early appearance in Nazareth, one of the first recorded responses went something like this: Weíve never seen or heard anything like this before. And whatís crazier than their unvarnished reaction to the Bread of Life was that the single word they used to express their amazement was the same word that their sand-faring ancestors had used to describe that fluffy stuff falling out of the sky. And it was in a similar flash of insight I knew Iíd come to something deeply spiritual courtesy of ABC sports.
I am now forty years later still learning to dance on a different kind of ice, but proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is hope for the majority of us guys who canít distinguish between the merengue and the minuet. The intrinsic rub: We live in a culture that gets impatient in front of a microwave.