Song of Solomon 1:15-17
Ah, you are beautiful, my love;
ah, you are beautiful;
your eyes are doves.
Ah, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly lovely.
Our couch is green;
the beams of our house are cedar,
our rafters are pine.
The verses you just read are Holy Writ. They are inspired by God to instruct his people in ways of righteousness. They are sensuous and sensible. Some scholars say that the entire book of Song of Solomon should be read as allegory of the story of the love of God for His people. I buy that, partially. The book is rich and remarkable with its love language, just as God’s love for His people is rich and remarkable. But, I don’t think that’s all there is to it.
One of the things we learn about King Solomon is that his libido was fully functioning. I think he wrote this book as an expression of love for a particular woman (a black beauty says 1:5) or for the allure and romance of women in general. Through all this, the Sacred Romance is a constant drumbeat. If you wonder if there is a Sacred Romance, I suggest you read the book by that title.
We have several copies in the church library. When I read it, I felt like the authors had been inside my heart and were laying bare its hopes and fears before God. Again, when I read it, I had to consider the love of God for me in a deeper, more compelling way than I ever had before.
I have chosen this passage today because today is Sue’s birthday! She is xb#^hq years old on March 18. Most of you know that she is currently fighting what we hope and believe is a winning battle against breast cancer. I asked her today to tell me about her feelings during this season, to tell me when her greatest struggles have been and how I can best encourage her through them. She said that the initial revelation that she had cancer was really tough, but she had to “get a grip” and move forward.
She is really something special in the lives of all of us who love her so much.
She is the funniest person I have ever known who doesn’t try to be funny. She is also one of the toughest people I have ever known when the chips are down.
I really think she would have been an amazing military person and I mean that.
She has many of the attributes of some of my relatives who made the military their life’s work. But, thankfully, she chose (I believe she was lead) to faithfully serve as a nurse for her career. She is now in year 40 at Bromenn.
I think I have learned that when you meet “the right person” to be your mate, a highly indefinable chemistry develops between the two of you. Sue and I can attest to that. This doesn’t mean that all of our chemistry experiments are successful or that there’s never been an explosion in our laboratory, for things “oft go aglay” (as Robert Burns wrote) and our beakers bust or burners flame out. It does mean that we “come back to class together” soon thereafter and begin new experiments, some of which have surprise outcomes.
I remember the first few times I ever saw Sue. She was one of the many pretty freshman ladies that adorned IWU that fall of 1971. I was definitely drawn to her but such drawing had occurred many times before; it takes two things to make that drawing into a piece of art: courage on the part of the male and openness on the part of the female. Had you told me that I would muster up the courage to pursue her I would have doubted that. Had you told me that she would be open to making me her guy I would have seriously doubted that!
Your parents will probably get much wiser as life moves on. I know mine did.
My folks learned to love and appreciate the person that was/is Sue very fast, as did my siblings. I overheard my oldest sister say this not too long ago: “The best thing David ever did was marry Sue.” Now, if this was not true, Jeanette would never say it. But, why is this true?
Well, there are more reasons than even I can comprehend, but I think that one of the most important is her sense of humor. She loves, loves, loves to laugh and have a truly good time. I need that and she lays it on all of us. Her humor has gotten somewhat predictable, but I chuckle every time she lets loose with a “Lands a’ livin’!” or “Uffda feeduh” or a surprise scream or phantom “whoop!”
She’s always been so cute to me and she’s never fought against my pursuit of dreams. For that alone, she deserves a medal, maybe the Purple Heart. (Remember, I said that she has the makins’ of a military genius.)
Happy birthday, Sue! The laugh you just let loose with upon just seeing that person driving her Rascal with her dog on her lap just validated most of what I said herein. Even Solomon in all his glory never laughed like you can make me laugh. And, remember, “the beams of our house ARE cedar.” (verse 17)
Clive says: “What we call ‘being in love’ is a glorious state, and, in several ways, good for us. It helps to make us generous and courageous, it opens our eyes not only to the beauty of the beloved but to all beauty, and it subordinates (especially at first) our merely animal sexuality; in that sense, love is the great conqueror of lust. No one in his senses would deny that being in love is far better than either common sensuality or cold selfcentredness.
But, as I said before, ‘the most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of our own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs’. Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called ‘being in love’ usually does not last. If the old fairytale ending ‘They lived happily ever after’ is taken to mean ‘They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,’ then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense-love as distinct from ‘being in love’-is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. ‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.