A number of years ago my wife and I were talking about death — specifically about how painfully sad parting will be for the one left behind.
I, of course, ruined the tenderness of the moment by sharing with her my personal theological conviction (my theologoumenon) that our sacramental marriage, though it will pass away in death, will find its perfect completion in heaven where sacramental signs fade into the splendor of the unveiled Reality as a promise passes into its fulfillment. None of the genuine love that we built together here will be lost there, for if it were, I would no longer be myself; nor would I, in its absence — in her absence — wish to be there.
Read here: a spouses’ highest goal is to lead their spouse to heaven.
For me, it has been a supreme privilege to have held in my hands the God-stamped covenant of marriage with this woman, Patti — who chose to entrust her one and only life to me! Quis sum ego? Every day, every year that passes our unity grows, by fits and starts, more profound, deeper, more rustic, more real and more human. Our children, greatest joy and immortal signs of our one-flesh love, remind us daily that married love is not to be solipsistic, sterile and inward, but is made to overflow with life.
It also seems that, as the years press on, our love grows more fierce in defiance of the limits imposed by time and mortality.
Set me as a seal on your heart,
as a seal on your arm;
For stern as death is love,
relentless as the nether world is devotion;
its flames are a blazing fire.
Deep waters cannot quench love,
nor floods sweep it away.
Were one to offer all he owns to purchase love,
he would be roundly mocked.
— Song of Solomon 8:6-7
As God stores our tears in His flask (Ps. 56:8), and turns our shouldered burdens into precious offerings lifted up in ever more tightly clasped hands, I feel our marriage each day to be more a Mass; more a divine liturgy of earthy love that raises laughter and sorrow, passion and pain, labor and rest, sin and repentance Godward into the deathless whirl of the Wedding Feast of Paradise. There I hope against hope we can, in the midst of the communion of saints, laugh again, dance again, sing again, and talk endlessly about all those small and insignificant things that made our love on earth so wonderfully frivolous and joyously useless.
Something like that.
…but “by the cross, joy entered the whole world.” Its presence is thus the real joy of marriage. It is the joyful certitude that the marriage vow, in the perspective of the eternal Kingdom, is not taken “until death parts,” but “until death unites us completely.” – Alexander Schmemann
A final song to do some greater justice to this truth: