Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Cross of Marriage

"I love to think of the cross as Jesus' marriage bed where he laid himself down, body, soul, mind and heart, thus giving himself completely to his spouse, which is all of us, reborn in baptism. Just as Eve comes forth from the side of Adam as he sleeps, so, too, the church is born from the wounded side of the crucified Christ.

Every wife and husband that marry in Christ are committed to loving each other sacrificially, unselfishly, completely, exclusively, permanently, because that is how God loves all of us through Jesus."

Fr. Don Hying, Rector
St. Francis de Sales Seminary, Milwaukee

That first summer when Paul and I met, we spent a lot of time at the State Fair because Paul was working at a restaurant there. I would wait for his shift to end, and then we'd wander the fair enjoying the sights, sounds and each other's company.

As we walked through the vending hall, admiring all of the wares for sale, laughing at the gimmicks of the salesmen trying to pass off another "Ronco slice 'em, dice 'em" cutting machine and counting the number of people walking around with mops they had purchased, Paul suddenly stopped in front of the booth of golden jewelry. "Pick something out", he said. "I want to buy something for you." My eyes landed on a beautiful golden cross. On top of the cross was a golden dove with an olive branch in its mouth. After paying the vendor, Paul lovingly clasped the necklace around my neck. After 5 years of dating and 18 years of marriage, that cross is still my favorite necklace, as meaningful to me as our wedding rings. None of the jewelry that Paul has bought for me since that day has ever held as much meaning for me as that simple cross necklace that I wear almost daily.

Over the years, the weight of that cross around my neck can feel pretty heavy as we battle with harsh words and cold shoulders, and struggle through the difficulties of parenting and family life. But no matter how heavy it can be at times, the dove of peace and forgiveness always moves his silent wings to lighten the load for us. In every marriage, challenges are sure to arise. Throughout the days of stress and worry that are part of all marriages, one action has kept us close and carried us through many storms. We have made a habit of rising early, before the children are awake, and enjoying a long embrace before Paul leaves for work. It is impossible to be angry or unhappy with someone when you are holding him or her close, feeling the rhythm of their heartbeat, hearing the sound of their breath, securely wrapped in the arms of the one you’ve promised to love forever. But Paul and I are not alone in our daily embrace, for the love of human spouses just can’t be strong enough to survive on it’s own. As we hold each other close each morning, it is God who is holding us even closer. We can feel the arms of His love embracing us both, His heartbeat uniting ours together, His breath warming us both. That daily embrace between God, Paul and I starts the movement of the wings of peace that lightens every cross that threatens to weigh down our marriage. As we embrace one another in God's love, it is ultimately peace that flies through the cross of marriage.

God of love, God of peace, be with us as we begin each day with a prayer and an embrace. Let the wings of peace carry us to Your heart whenever the burden of the cross threatens to weigh us down. Unite us forever in Your love. Amen.


  1. Beautiful.

    I'll be gentle with my spouse today.

  2. Anne. Just lovely. I love hearing how people met and to hear that they haven't forgotten those early tender moments.
    Thank you.

  3. This is beautiful, Anne. So many marriages break up in our days that it's scary. Randy and I have been married for 15 years and we dated for almost three years before that. We have our battles but God has blessed us. I'm like kee, I like hearing stories of how people met. Plus, even your stories are poetic and you know how much I love this.

  4. Anne,
    You should give this as a marriage prep witness. Along with those wonderful words of your rector.
    Marriage takes 3. All engaged couples need to know that. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.

  5. This is such a beautiful practice with your are truly committed and have given me something to reflect on. Have a blessed Sunday!

  6. Oh yes, Anne, I agree with Karinann: you should share this beautiful post with marriage prep groups :)
    I've been married for 30 years. There have been many challenges but, yes, no matter how heavy it was at times, the dove of peace and forgiveness always moved in with silent wings to lighten the load for us. I cannot thank the Lord enough.