BY ALL THE LAWS both of logic and simple arithmetic, to give yourself away in love to another would seem to mean that you end up with less of yourself left than you had to begin with. But the miracle is that just the reverse is true, logic and arithmetic go hang. To give yourself away in love to somebody else—as a man and a woman give themselves away to each other at a wedding—is to become for the first time yourself fully. To live not just for yourself alone anymore but for another self to whom you swear to be true—plight your troth to, your truth to—is in a new way to come fully alive. Things needn't have been that way as far as we know, but that is the way things are, that is the way life is, and if you and I are inclined to have any doubts about it, we can always put it to the test. The test, needless to say, is our lives themselves.
Nobody with any sense claims that marriage is going to be clear sailing all the way, least of all the author of the marriage service. "For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health"—there will be good times and bad times both. There will be times when the vows exchanged here—wild and implausible as in countless ways they are—seem all but impossible to keep. But by holding fast to each other in trust, in patience, in hope, and by holding fast also to him who has promised to be present whenever two or three are gathered together in his name as he was present that day in Cana of Galilee, the impossible becomes possible. The water becomes wine. And by grace we become, little by little, human in spite of ourselves, become whole, become truly loving and lovely at last.
- Originally published in A Room Called Remember