In the summer preceding my sister’s wedding, I took to writing a poem for the occasion. This was during the time that I thought of love as many people do: the romantic attraction and feeling that two people have for one another. Thankfully, I was not so ignorant as to believe that this was the only kind of love, or the only kind of love worth having. I had always known that I was loved by my family, and this self-sacrificing love that they shared with me shaped and formed me with depth of character and a great capacity for joy. As a teenager and young adult, however, I wanted more…naturally. I wanted to know what it was like to fall in love with a man and for a man to fall in love with me. I, too, wanted to get married.
The circumstance of my life — severe disease and disability — rendered this very normal yearning unfulfilled. Okay, just a minute, because I can hear all of those well-meaning people who have said to me that there’s someone out there who could and would definitely love me if I gave it a chance. No. Don’t do that. I remember responding to some of those people in my youth by paraphrasing Groucho Marx: “I wouldn’t want to marry the man who would take me as his wife.” I’m not that desperate. Besides, although it’s often said in regard to looking for a romantic match that there’s a cover for every pot, does every pot really need a cover? Some of us are not meant to have a mate, for either long or short term. Some of us are maybe meant to have our goodness simmer in the open to fill the whole space with deliciousness. Romantic love is not for everyone.
It’s not for me. This fact is not easy for me to swallow, something that I can just be blasé about. It hurts. It has always hurt and, although I am mature and wise and knowledgeable of how I am best fulfilled, and probably happier than most married people, I think it will always hurt, like an old injury that can ache or a scar that can burn.
With this particular heartache of mine, I set about writing a poem for the occasion of my sister’s wedding when I was 24. Having survived paltry catechesis and a brief bout with atheism, I was what possibly would have been called “spiritual but not religious.” My great love was being alive, the unfathomable mystery of life, and something faintly communicated through the whispers and glimpses of beauty’s boundless bounty…divine love? I was not yet a Christian, I did not yet believe that the infinite and eternal Creator and Master of the universe and beyond was Love Itself. I didn’t even hope that God is love, I saw no need for such a fairytale in my life. Yet, the poem that I wrote seems to me now to speak as much to the mystery of Christ as it does to the mystery of marriage, as both were far removed from my knowledge then.
I thought that I was being clever when I wrote the poem that I am sharing here, using religious imagery to imbue my sister’s wedding with holiness. I’m sure that I also knew that I was likewise connecting the mystery of God to the intimate holiness of married love. I am a perpetual novice and I want to know everything, so even then, always loving the truth, I was waiting outside of the curtained wall asking to have revealed to me the full reality of life and love, which is at the heart of every wedding as well as the heart of every wonder.
On the Occasion of My Sister’s Wedding
Holy of Holies,
of whose existence I have heard,
but only the ordained have seen.
be ministers of Love,
convince me that it’s true,
and I will attend.
I never did share the poem for my sister’s wedding. I’m doing so now on the occasion of my parents’ 49th wedding anniversary, not because it’s great poetry, but because I love them.
© 2019 Christina Chase
Although crippled by disease, I am fully alive in love. I write about the profound wonder and terrible beauty of life while living with physical disability and severe dependency. Unafraid to ask life's big questions, I was briefly an atheist and considered other religions before finding, in God's choice to intimately share our humanity, what it truly means to be fully human. A revert to the Catholic Faith, I blog weekly and have written a book called It's Good to Be Here.