Easter is upon us. In light of this special season, I hope you enjoy this article, inspired by one of my favorite authors, Charles Williams, who offers us perspective on sacrifice and love in our relationships – reminding us of the greatest love – that of the Holy.
A British author, poet, novelist, playwright, theologian, literary critic and member of the Inklings, Charles Williams was born on September 20th, 1886. He passed away on May 15th, 1945, leaving this world a legacy and wealth of literature – for all of our lives.
One of his contributions, and one which holds a tremendous meaning for me, is his theological perspective on romantic love. For Williams, the experience of intense love, ordinarily to be found between a man and a woman, is a relationship, which over time, has become an encounter, considered as, ordinary.
What we have lost, over time as well, is the understanding of intense love, as an immense mystery that lies at the trinitarian heart of the universe – a mystery informing us, that self-giving is a mode of joy.
As Williams describes it, hes writes;
“Any true lover knows that to give himself (and a thousand gifts) to and for his lady, far from being drudgery, is bliss. One cannot do nearly enough to satisfy the joyous demands of one’s own love. Giving and receiving become indistinguishable.”
As a paradox that lies at the heart of things, Williams relates the giving of one’s self to their spouse, to that of the Trinity, where the Son of God eternally gives Himself, in love to the Father, and the Holy Spirit being an “agent” of this love.
This giving of one’s self, appears as the smallest gestures, “Here – let me give you a hand with that bag of groceries.” Or to one’s wife in the middle of the night; “What? A glass of water? Here – let me get that for you.”
We see in Williams expressions, Sacrificial and Divine love, filtering into the very fabric of life, with a purified offer …. of grace and My Life for Yours.
Through the perspective of Charles Williams, we glean a hint, that “romantic love” is a preview, as to the final nature of things. It is the context wherein we get to learn the lesson of the meaning of love. Similar to learning a dance choreography, but in a larger context, we learn the dance steps by heart with our partners in life. And ultimately, perhaps this dance, this one we practice with each other, is to be performed later, as a play; one originally titled, My Life for Yours, and to be performed on another stage, as that of Eternity’s Day.
Why I Didn’t Marry You
I didn’t marry you for money
or the profits of your name
I didn’t marry you for title
or some social gain
I married you because I loved you
no one else but you
And everything I ever wanted
was in those eyes of blue
So it is strange today, to have whispered low
about reality’s way
of drawing an unwanted curtain
calling intermission on our play
And so for this audience I have chosen
the moment to speak
what I’d want to say
“I loved you so in the beginning
but never more than now
In love with you I hold a gift, the greatest,
a magical wow!
It brings us laughter, tears, pain,
and forgiveness to strive
on this hard wood floor
where each performance is live
It is a scene of years we play
like understudies for the lead someday
in the awaited opening premier
of the playwrite’s masterpiece
And I will be the one
to practice with you
reciting the lines, until we know
“giving and receiving love by heart”
And together hold the truth
of being one as two
And when “we” is no longer one,
when this union called “ours” is done
even then will you feel and sense
For I married you – because I loved you
no one else would ever do
And even on the stage of
my love –
with you will stay.”
With a gratitude that I don’t believe I could ever express very well, for the One Who loves me most, and graciously asked me to the dance,. But even way before then, the same One, verbally and non-verbally, said to all of us, “My life for yours….Shall we dance?”
The poem above, Why I Didn’t Marry You, was written in honor of my beloved husband, the one for whom I am thankful …. continues to dance with me.
Wishing you all a blessed Easter.
1. The photo above is by Jack Vettrano
2. Bibliography: The Night is Far Spent by Thomas Howard.