Thursday, October 23, 2014

"never to let them fall…"

"they were true love,
written in stone,
they were never alone,
they were never that far apart…"
- James Taylor

This is the kind of relationship I dreamed about, prayed for, gave my everything to. And it is the kind of relationship that I believe we all hope to find, love our way into, grow up within, and be known for.

I first heard the lyrics to JT's,"Never Die Young," in 1988, and I just knew they were written about "us." I thought we were that couple. I thought we could overcome anything. I thought we would be those cute little old people walking hand-in-hand through town at sunset.

But we weren't. And we aren't -- at least not with each other.  However, I do believe that we are a testament to the power of love and hope.  I digress.  This isn't a post about divorce - or remarriage. This is a post about Taylor's admonition to "hold them up, hold them up, never to let them fall…" This is an open letter to the residents of every "tough town" he is singing about. This is my plea, and my prayer.

A relationship is not a reality show, playing itself out in real time. It isn't meant to be conversation fodder for neighbors over coffee, or subject to community Nielsen ratings. It shouldn't be the topic of Siskel and Ebert-like thumbs up/thumbs down assessments. A relationship -- whether it is a marriage, a domestic partnership, or a very good friendship -- is not there for our entertainment. No one is asking us for our vote of confidence.

Sometimes, we get caught up in what others think of us. In the midst of our day-to-day living, it is hard to separate what is our own reality, from the stories that are being projected onto us.  And sometimes, being in a relationship is just plain hard.  It is especially difficult to navigate when we begin to feel the weight of human opinions, speculation, or just the boredom-based chatter that happens when people aren't engaged in service to others -- the kind of life-expansive charity, social advocacy, and unselfed community service that keeps us from the chocolate cupboard of gossip.

As I sit here today - listening to this much-loved song - my heart cries out for social self-restraint. For an end to what JT refers to in the lyric: "everyone used to run them down: 'they're a little too sweet, they're a little too tight…"

Please, please, please -- let's just stop it. Instead let's:

"Hold them up,
hold them up,
never to let them fall
prey to the rust, and the dust,
and the ruin that names us,
and claims us, and shames us
and ruins us all..."

Because it does you know. When we participate in knocking down someone's relationship or marriage with the kind of so-called harmless comments, speculation, criticism, sarcasm that reality TV promotes as entertaining conversation, we name ourselves as unkind, we claim our friendships as small-minded, we shame ourselves with gossip and mischief-making, and we ruin our sense of identity as a loving, supportive community -- a place to grow and thrive in.

And that dust, and rust, and ruin. It's never in them. It's never attached itself to a person, to a couple, to a family, or to a friendship. It's only on the lens that we are looking through. We can wipe the lens clean. For everyone's sake.

It's time to stop looking for the first crack in a person's spiritual poise, the first fissure in a relationship, the first (or second) mistake -- and jump on it. It's time to stop saying -- to ourselves and others, "see, I told you so." It's time to stop celebrating the widening rift in relational fault lines with self-congratulatory silent (or audible) surprise, and disdain.

This is not an easy journey. We are all doing it, with as much grace, love, trust, and courage as we know how. The last thing anyone needs is to have the acid of gossip, speculation, and "i knew it all along…" thrown in.

The Golden Rule is precious and practical. It keeps us safe from becoming another character in a reality TV show of our own making. When we think, speak, do unto (and about) others what we would want thought, said, or done unto (or about) us -- and our partner, spouse, children, family, home, business, we are on safe, holy ground. 

 And in the course of living this Golden Rule, we may just find that leaving other people's relationships alone -- or supporting them by trusting them to Love's wise guidance and protection -- we improve our own relationships, foster new ones, and strengthen our ties to the source of all love.

I love this brief statement from Mary Baker Eddy's last published work, The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany:

"No mortal is infallible, 
— hence the Scripture,
“Judge no man.”

We're all a work in progress. We all make mistakes in this laboratory of loving. But those mistakes don't define us. And, we are all in this together. We are all trying to find, and live, the kind of love that is a little too sweet, and not too tough. The kind of love that rises from among the detritus of human drama like a big balloon and soars over it with grace. I know I do. I want my relationships to inspire, not entertain.

offered with all my Love -- and prayers,


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