“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
– Matthew 19:4-6
“… the difference between looking at and looking along. A young man meets a girl. The whole world looks different when he sees her. Her voice reminds him of something he has been trying to remember all his life, and ten minutes’ casual chat with her is more precious than all the favors that all other women in the world could grant. He is, as they say, ‘in love’. Now comes a scientist and describes this young man’s experience from the outside. For him it is all an affair of the young man’s genes and a recognized biological stimulus. That is the difference in looking along the sexual impulse and looking at it.”
– C. S. Lewis, ‘Meditation in a Toolshed’
The C. S. Lewis description was almost perfect. My wife is a little older than I am, less than two years. So, I would not refer to her as a ‘girl’ when talking of our first-time meeting. To me, she was a vision of loveliness, but I had not had a meaningful date with anyone in over a year at that point. She has admitted that I looked weird and improperly dressed to play tennis. But our phone conversations leading to the first real date, and the conversations during the first date, were just as Lewis described. Ten minutes of casual chat was more meaningful than every experience with any other woman, all of them combined. While the scientist is looking for the ‘sexual impulse’, all I was really concerned about during those conversations was learning more. Lewis seems to have skipped a lot of steps when going from “casual chat” to “sexual impulse”, or maybe that is just me.
It is odd that scientists have spent an effort on quantifying love by looking at genetics and looking at increases or decreases in one enzyme or another in the body. But scientists have made many odd discoveries along with the important ones over the years. Dr. Duncan MacDougall in 1907 discovered that a patient lost 21 grams (about three quarters of an ounce) upon death. His discovery was reported in the news before he could obtain a scientifically significant sample and with the notoriety had to abandon his experiment. The headlines read “Soul has weight, Physician thinks.”
Yes, scientists sometimes do not know if their discovery is significant until years later. But in some endeavors, like watching young people in love, the observation is from a clinical, antiseptic distance that misses the point. This, of course, was Lewis’ point in the first place.
God established marriage as Jesus confirmed in the Scripture above with Adam and Eve.
My wife and I were wed roughly 43 and a half years ago. We became one. A little over two years later, I had to leave my wife and our son, who was not yet one year old, to go into the Army. She stayed in Texas to finish the school year. I reported to the Engineer Officer Basic Course.
My wife has said that she has never seen me cry. Okay, there have been times, briefly, but like MacDougall’s experiment, a scientifically insignificant sample of instances. I have yet to shed a tear after my brother, then my father, then my mother died in a three-month span seven years ago. But I cried so much between Texas and Virginia when I left for the Army, I was in danger of getting dehydrated. My next big cry was leaving her with our two sons three years later. We had nowhere to live when the Army moved me back to the US after three years in Germany. While I went to Watertown, MA to obtain housing, she took the boys to Texas to stay with her family. Maybe part of the separation anxiety stemmed from the unknown, not knowing how long it would take for military housing to become available. As it was, it was only a couple of weeks. We had an oversized closet (seemingly) for the four of us to live in for six months.
My many business trips since then have not had the same reaction, but that early separation had a profound impact. I guess over the years since, I developed an earthly faith that she would be there upon my return. I gained perspective between the decades of togetherness and the few weeks, at most, of separation.
Now I am faced with a different battle of faith altogether. My wife has been scheduled to undergo open-heart surgery on 8 August. She will have aortic valve replacement and at least two by-passes. The doctor said that from the point during surgical prep when I had to leave the room until I could be reunited with my wife, I would be waiting for eight hours. Somehow, I fear those eight hours will be longer than the three day drive from Texas to Virginia in the mid 70s.
Now, I must prove that God has really taught me something from the Bible Study that was posted in late July through 2 August on Earthly Blessings. My wife has been my greatest earthly blessing. Our conversations over 40+ years have remained long, much longer than a ten-minute casual chat. They have sometimes been casual, but often they have been meaningful. Sometimes I think the leaders of this world need to record our conversations. They might learn something, but maybe that is thinking too simplistic.
Yet, the surgery is a few days away, and I already dread that eight-hour ordeal. I am already earnestly praying. I will try to occupy my mind and spend some of those eight hours doing some pleasure reading, but if my brain does not register what my eyes have seen, I will place the books aside. (I read four at one time.) I may then get my Bible out and look for every verse in the Bible that mentions key words about things that will let me remember God’s promises to His chosen people.
What will I pray for and ask others to pray for? I want my wife to come through the surgery and be stronger as a result. I will pray for the surgery to go smoothly. My wife has done odd things while under anesthesia. I pray none of that this time. I will pray for the surgeon and the entire surgical staff that they have a good weekend and good early week so that they are refreshed and ready for giving my wife the best care possible. My wife is a certified surgical technician, Air Force trained and Vietnam Era experienced, patching up soldiers upon their return to the US. She knows what it is like to be in a very long surgical procedure, and then immediately scrub for the next one. The staff needs prayers every day, but I am being a little selfish between now and through Wednesday. Of course, there are other nurses who will watch over my wife in the Critical Care Unit for possibly a week. There may even be some physical therapy at a nursing facility until my wife is stronger, but that decision will be made later. (Our house has a lot of stairs.) And I must pray for family, our boys and their families, her side of the family, and my side of the family. All live too far away. They cannot be here to get the news more directly, much less help. I am already praying that I maintain my strength. She’ll need me.
I have thought about the blog. I may miss a day here or there. Right now, I have about one week of posts ready to publish but reading the posts of others may be intermittent. Please forgive me. Over the last few days of long trips to the hospital (doctor visits, tests, etc.), I have found time on the computer to be hard to come by. Starting next Wednesday, it will be even harder.
Our God is a good God. I have faith that God will use this next month or two for His Glory.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.