Friday, February 10, 2012

mike mason | the mystery of marriage

It is no secret that there is a heady, breathtaking freedom in love,
but how many realize that the marrying kind is the headiest of all?
In a person about to be married
there is a quality of footloose derailment,
as if an old rusty locomotive had suddenly sprouted wings
and soared away from its tracks.
Being engaged is like
entering a new stage of childhood,
like having a new body,
like being a brand new creature just emerged from a cocoon,
with shining skin not quite dry.
One stumbles around, lumbers, cranes, reels.
And what are those ponderous appendages on one's back,
those preposterous, unwieldy contraptions
that keep lifting one up into the air?

There is an obviousness about true love, a certainty.
To doubt it is to be plunged into darkness and confusion.
But to believe in and accept it is to be filled with light.
There is really nothing else like it.
Few other decisions in life will be anywhere near as crucial
as the decision to love or not to love.
And once made, there can be no reneging.

A marriage is not a joining of two worlds,
but an abandoning of two worlds
so that one new one can be formed.
The call to be married is like Jesus' advice to the rich young man
to sell all his possessions and follow.
It is a vocation to total abandonment.
For most people,
marriage is the single most wholehearted step they will ever take
toward a fulfillment of Jesus' command
to love one's neighbor as oneself.

Make no mistake about it:
the joining of a man and a woman in matrimony
is a supernatural event,
founded upon a mutual exchange of holy pledges –
the only true vows that most people will ever take.
The saying of them requires about thirty seconds.
But keeping them is the work of a lifetime.

illustration by 
William Pène du Bois,
"The Flying Locomotive"