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Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness

by davesandel on October 3rd, 2021

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 3, 2021                      (today’s lectionary)

Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness

It is not good for man to be alone. So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep took one of his ribs and built the rib up into a woman. And the man said, “This is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”

And in this way the way of all flesh was cast – marriage for many, and children, and growing old together, the joys and sorrows of becoming one.

This is why a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh.

I was a child once, conceived and carried, borne and birthed. My parents, like all parents, scarcely knew what to do, mostly just what they heard from their own parents. They did not know with any real knowing that I was lent to them by God for a time, and that the same amazing bargain would be struck by God with me and Margaret, she who went through the same beautiful preparation, and then we had Chris, and we had Marc, and we had Andrea, and they were God’s kids, on loan to us for a short, precious time.

What did Kahlil Gibran say about this?

Your children are not your children; they are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

Children, go where I send thee. But how shall I send thee? Of American couples, more than half are unmarried or divorced. What’s wrong with that? The Pharisees had no problem with it, two thousand years ago. They said to Jesus:

Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife? Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her. But Jesus told them that was because of “the hardness of your hearts. What God has joined together, no human being can separate.”

We separate anyway, not recognizing at first what we are doing. Pat Conroy wrote “Anatomy of a Divorce” over a year after he and his wife Barbara signed the papers. “You can enter this sinister cocoon as a butterfly and stagger out later as a caterpillar doomed to walk under the eye of the spider.” What we thought we could do, we cannot.

We follow in the path of our culture and our parents and our friends, and in time we fall away from what is good and true and beautiful. Our children follow us on that path, but thank God they are his kids far more than they are ours. And after all, we are God’s kids too. Gibran says:

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

Conroy says divorce without children is a “minor league divorce.” But he and Barbara had three daughters. “To look into their eyes, and tell them you are mutilating their family, that you are changing the structure of their world by a process of radical surgery that will make all their tomorrows different is an act of desperate courage that I never want to repeat in my life.”

Funny how marriage and divorce take up the left and right sides of my brain as I read today’s scriptures. Children are those unexpectedly awesome beings that reside right down my brain’s middle, in a virtual corpus callosum. They impose themselves day after day on what we can and cannot do as human beings. Gibran echoes God’s affection for parents, which knows no bounds:

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with his might that His arrows may go swift and far.

When we follow God’s trails into the wilderness of marriage and parenting, when we don’t stop 1) breaking with our past, 2) bonding with our partner, 3) learning the way of one-ing, 4) loving and 5) respecting each other, we too with Adam and Eve will sing, “At last! You are bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”

May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives. Blessed are you who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. May you see your children’s children, and bring them peace. May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives.

Gibran finishes his discourse:

Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness; for even as He loves the arrow that flies, so She loves also the bow that is stable.

(Genesis 2, Psalm 128, Hebrews 2, 1 John 4, Mark 10)                      

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