The Result of Being Twitterpated

Once upon a time there was a cheesecake that was mentioned on this blog.  Well, about two weeks ago, on a beautiful and breezy Saturday afternoon, that cheesecake morphed into a wedding.  It’s been a fun year to watch our friends meet, get twitterpated, consider their future together, and ultimately tie the knot!  This ability to observe our friends has reminded me of my own dating and marriage process—now nearly 10 years in the making—and given me the opportunity to reflect on God’s design of it all.  The creation account in Genesis 2 ends with the culmination of something so incredible that God called it not just good (as He had the rest of creation in the account in Genesis 1), but very good.  And Adam must have seen this as well.  One can hear the excitement Adam had upon laying eyes on his new bride Eve as he said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!” (Genesis 2:23).  Intimacy and vulnerability—to the point of being the same—were at the core of the newly-created marriage relationship.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul brings this point home all the more.  The role of the husband is to tend one’s wife so that she is “without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” because in doing so one loves his wife as he does his own body (Ephesians 5:26-27).  Again, this picture of intimacy and openness is the same call one has in marriage some 1500 years after the writing of Genesis.

And 2000 years since Paul’s writings, I saw it at our friends’ wedding—the uniting of wills and futures and hopes with the intent on being vulnerable to whatever God would call of these two in the future.  Let’s be in prayer for the happy couple as they celebrate what God has brought together.

Let me know your thoughts on your marriage or that of others—how have you seen a carrying out of the words of Adam and Paul in your own life?

Join Us: Upcoming Marriage Retreat

Theologian Thomas Moore in Care of the Soul says that we can love one’s soul—our own and that of others—by simply taking interest in it—finding what makes it excited, getting to know it and see its inner core:

Taking an interest in the soul is a way of loving it. The ultimate cure, as many ancient and modern psychologies of depth have asserted, comes from love and not from logic. Understanding doesn’t take us very far in this work, but love, expressed in patient and careful attention, draws the soul in from dispersion in problems and fascinations. It has been noted that most, if not all, problems brought to therapists are issues of love. It makes sense then that the cure is also love.

Think of how one interacts with their child, who simply wants to have that moment of eye-to-eye contact where they know they really are being listening to. That’s at the heart of what Moore is saying. This ultimate cure to be known comes not from a logical plan but from a wild and infecting love. Perhaps this is why true intimacy for our culture—and that of many others—is so hard to accept. To be known and accepted as I truly am does not make sense. In fact, many of us would reject this notion logically. “How can she love me?” one asks. Moore is right in his suggestion that love cannot be fully understood as there is a part of it that we quickly want to reject. More rightly, with patience and care, we begin to see that our own varied problems fade and make way for sharing, for relationship, and for being known.

Just as this is true for in a parent-child relationship, we also see this in marriage. This kind of love and intimacy was at the heart of the love relationship shared between Sheldon Van Auken and Jean Davis, better known as Van and Davy, who wrote A Severe Mercy. Van writes that…

…total sharing, we felt, was the ultimate secret of a love that would last forever. And of course we could learn to like anything if we wanted to. Through sharing we would not only make a bond of incredible friendship, but through sharing we would keep the magic of inloveness.

For Van and Davy, their marriage relationship grew more in love as they saw value in the things shared in which the other was—at first—more interested. Sailing, convertibles, Christianity, England and dying well were all things one of them like more originally. But, because of the intimacy in their relationship, they saw that there would be something worthwhile in the likes of the other, which lead to a greater “inloveness,” their word for keeping the marriage fires burning, even during some of the very cold times they endured.

How do you see inloveness and intimacy in your own relationships? I’d be interested to know how you keep things going in our busy and disconnected world.

Want to work on this love and intimacy in your own marriage? You may be interested in an upcoming seminar on intimacy in one’s marriage. We hold our inaugural Creating Oneness marriage retreat on the evening of September 18th on “Intimacy with the Other: God and Your Spouse.” For more info, to register and for future retreat info, click here. We hope to see you there.

My Need for Love

I have a difficulty with being loved. Part of me does not like it as it’s easier to do things on my own. And I don’t think I’m alone in this one. Many of us feel uncomfortable being loved—by a lover, by a parent, by a friend, by God. And yet in my innermost part of me, I desire it. We all desire to be loved, to be wanted and to be known. Can we be known by others as we truly are? Wouldn’t they reject us if they knew what we really are at our core? As we are loved more, we become more fully who we are created to be.

George Herbert, a 17th century Anglican priest, wrote about this need for love As well as our aversion to it. He writes in his Love (III): “Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back, guilty of dust and sin.” So often, we feel unworthy of the love of another. Don’t we see this in so many ways as we look around our world today? My busyness and shallow interactions with others are all ways I keep others at bay and me from being known by them. As Herbert’s main character interacts with Love, who is God Himself, there is a huge sense of unworthiness, a sense of shame, toward all that God has done it all for him—for us! The story continues:

“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.

Herbert provides us with a picture here of a feast prepared for all who will be loved. All one has to do is “sit down.” And Herbert did just that. Herbert’s realization of his own love brought him to a deeper realization of who he was created to be. Similar to Margery Williams’ story of Velveteen Rabbit, Herbert saw that being real has nothing to do with “how you are made, [but rather] it’s a thing that happens to you.” That when one “REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” And the process is slow, and it may hurt, and it typically “doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

And when we are loved, when we can allow ourselves to be cared for, we are real, living exactly where God would want us to be. Thankfully, this is a long process for all of us, not something I can master by tomorrow morning. In this, there is grace.

So, may each of us find strength in remembering that in our hair being loved off and being loose in the joints is an invitation toward becoming more real, and that this occurs as we allow others and the Other to love us more fully.

And now your turn: What are some of the ways you see in yourself that you are real or aren’t real, loved or aren’t loved and long to be loved or real?

Too little hospitality? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Much more than what is advertised in a recent commercial for an Italian restaurant, hospitality is the sharing of life with one another. Being hospitable people ourselves (at least we think we are!), my wife and I have known about hospitality, or so we thought. We had an opportunity to see just how far the hospitable rabbit hole goes in the past month.

Now all of us followers of Jesus long to have the life that Luke described about the early Church in Acts 2: “now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all as any of them had need” (v. 44-45). You know, mi casa es tu casa and the whole bit. But it’s definitely something to learn more about.

Months ago, an opportunity presented itself for us to go to a conference on my wife’s specialization of her field of study at school. In Boston no less, one of her favorite cities. Seeing a good thing when we saw one, we began to make plans to go. But at $250 a night for a hotel (that being the cheapest of hotel options), the trip began to look a bit too pricey for our budget. Thus began our search for finding someone to stay with while on our trip. As it turned out, a friend reminded me that another mutual friend lives in Boston, with whom we could stay or perhaps could connect us with someone in her network. The latter happened, and these someones actually needed housing while they were visiting LA last month. So, we had the opportunity to house them and then they got to reciprocate.

Just finishing our time with them, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that the spectrum of hospitality continues far off into the sunset—that is, there’s a lot to learn about opening your home up, helping one feel comfortable, while also learning that there’s a lot on my end in learning about how to not feel like a burden. While our time in Boston has finished with these new dear friends of ours, my journey on learning this continues, as I’m traveling the East Coast for the next couple of days, staying with other friends. I’m writing this having spent some time with a buddy in Jersey (which is much nicer than Hollywood would have you believe, as they don’t all say “badda-bing, badda-bang”).

When done right, the Church is an amazing community. And it’s been a real joy to live life with new friends this past week. It’s a bit of the picture I think Jesus had in mind when He called us to “love one another” (John 15). May each of us this week look for ways to practice hospitality this week, perhaps a phone call to one we’ve not talked with recently, a note of encouragement for an old friend, or an extended hand of generosity to a stranger.

Cooking Up Something with Love

This past weekend, I helped facilitate a retreat for my spiritual direction group at Ev Free Fullerton’s The Journey. And while I went to facilitate, I was also a participant. In attempting to discern what I was to focus on on this retreat, I came back to one thing—food. It had been awhile since I was on a food-related retreat. So, I asked those I went up with if I could manage our food needs for the weekend and planned a great spread for the weekend. I talked with my chef friend regarding the menus, what he’s done on past food retreats of his own, and felt ready to go. Wednesday and Thursday last week had me around different stores, preparing for the upcoming weekend. Still, I didn’t know exactly the content of what my time would be. Food. That was it (not that I’m complaining, mind you). Well, Friday evening as I was preparing to go to bed, I felt a good nudge that God was telling me that He wanted the food I prepared—food of a variety of tastes, colors, fragrances, textures—to be a reminder of His love for me. All of the food I made, the lavish recipes I planned to make, the intricate qualities (and quantities) of the dishes of which we’d partake—all were to be a way of remembering God’s love.

The love of God is a hard thing to comprehend. It is typically “too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (Psalm 139:6). Yet the evidence of it in the orange hues of butternut squash, the fragrant aroma of pungent minced garlic, or the sweetness of a sticky pecan cinnamon bun makes it a bit easier to grasp. God’s love was all the more evident as I cooked in a mountain setting amidst scrub jays, pine trees, and granite boulders. What I was reminded of this past weekend was that God’s love comes to us in all shapes and sizes. In this new week, God’s love is evident to you and I both in different down-the-mountain ways of a favorite or meaningful song on the radio, an unexpected call from a friend, or an unplanned moment of rest in the day. May each of us be on the lookout for these ways God whispers to us that we are, as Henri Nouwen said, “the beloved sons and daughters of God.” And may this spur us on to good works for Him.