“The meaning of marriage begins in the giving of words. We cannot join ourselves to one another without giving our word. And this must be an unconditional giving, for in joining ourselves to one another we join ourselves to the unknown. We can join one another only by joining the unknown. We must not be misled by the procedures of experimental thought: in life, in the world, we are never given two known results to choose between, but only one result that we choose without knowing what it is. . . . Because the condition of marriage is worldly and its meaning communal, no one party to it can be solely in charge. What you alone think it ought to be, it is not going to be. Where you alone think you want it to go, it is not going to go. It is going where the two of you—and marriage, time, life, history, and the world—will take it. You do not know the road; you have committed your life to a way. . . . The Zen student, the poet, the husband, the wife—none knows with certainty what he or she is staying for, but all know the likelihood that they will be staying ‘a while’: to find out what they are staying for. And it is the faith of all of these disciplines that they will not stay to find that they should not have stayed. As the traditional marriage ceremony insists, not everything that we stay to find out will make us happy. The faith, rather, is that by staying, and only by staying, we will learn something of the truth, that the truth is good to know, and that it is always both different and larger than we thought.” Wendell Berry
“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven,
Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.”
Luke 9:51 NLT
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Did you enter marriage thinking you knew what to expect? Don’t most of us marry with illusions?
- In staying at marriage we may learn something “different and larger than we thought.” If you’re married, what has that meant for you?
- Think about Jesus’ life from the point of view of “staying.” What does his example show?
Abba, what do you want me to discover as I stay?
For More: Standing by Words: Essays by Wendell Berry
“The ancients tell us that, to develop spiritually, we must discover how to control ourselves in the face of what we claim to lack but have no right to expect. . . . To claim to be frustrated in the midst of life’s normalcies only defeats our desire to be a fully functioning human being. And, ironically, we do it to ourselves. And why would that be? The case is clear. Frustration is something that does not exist–except within the self. It translates my world to me through the filter of my own need to control it. . . . We call frustrating anything we want the world to confirm as justification for being unable to control the way we think. It’s what we use to explain the sour or pouty or demanding or manipulative attitudes we have developed. It is the right we assert to be less than we are capable of being. The paradox of delusion is that, if anything, the very act of putting trivia between us and the world is exactly a sign that we need to question what it is that is undermining our ability to function well in normal circumstances. When we allow the inconsequential to affect our ability to really be consequential in life, the question must be faced: What is really bothering us? . . . Frustration is the signal that, indeed, something does need to change in our lives. But no one else can change it for us. Only we have the power to name it and to change it within ourselves. . . . Then trivia becomes only trivia. We discover every day that there are greater things to concentrate on in life than the niggling, ordinary, commonplace little things we so often allow to fell us.” Joan Chittister
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.”
Matthew 22:37-28 NIV
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Have you stopped to really consider what is underneath your frustration?
- Is being frustrated all the time sabotaging your ability to become “a fully functioning human being?” . . . someone focused on what really does matter?
- Can you turn to the Great Physician just as you are (judgmental, controlling, angry, entitled, bitter) and present yourself as a person in need of divine help?
Abba, help me to see my frustration as the excuse that it (often) is.
For more: Between the Dark and the Daylight by Joan Chittister
Thanks for reading, following and sharing these Daily Riches. Look for my book this Fall, Wisdom From the Margins: Daily Readings for more of these “riches.”
Chittister, Joan. Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life. New York: Image, 2015.