Recently in my five Bible classes, we have looked at courtship, love, and marriage from a Christian perspective through the use of the videos of Johnny Lingo and The Phone Call. I could not say it any better than my late father's words when he spoke of my late mother. He wrote it four years ago in the summer of 2007, shortly before he suffered the stroke that would ultimately cost him his life. I am convinced his last earthly thought was of our mother.
As I read--and reread--what I wrote in Steve's blog nearly a year ago (please see July 17, 2006), tears came to my eyes and I felt a lump in my throat. That was a recounting of my meeting and later wooing of Nelda Chesshir on the campus of Harding College. The acquaintance first took place in the fall of 1946, the wooing two years later. "Wooing"--that seems like such an old-fashioned term, one that has unfortunately fallen mostly into disuse, while still retaining respectability. Couples in their older years are more likely to comprehend the full meaning of the term. To me it means to pursue the girl, all the time receiving some subtle--maybe very subtle--encouragement from the girl. At least that's the way it was with Nelda and me. She let me know, subtly, of course, that if I wanted her I'd have to work for her. That, of course, made the challenge more intriguing, the prize more desirable.
Courtship--that's another out-of-fashion word--is a process filled with mystery. It is, and always will be, a game of sorts. Proverbs 30:18-19 speaks of four things that are amazing--beyond understanding--the last of which is "the way of a man with a maiden." I've never understood that one myself--but it seems to work, that intricate dance of mutual discovery and usually unacknowledged but very real negotiation.
As I look back in a review of the years of our marriage, and with 57 of them there is a lot to review, I realize how much God has worked in our relationship to re-mold and re-form us, both as individuals and as a partnership. As I hit the fast-forward button, stopping at various points to take a look, I can see how God's hand has been at work all along. The wooing before marriage seemed to take little or no work. (Don't we speak of FALLING in love, not struggling uphill into love?) With the "I do's"--that's when the true work begins. The honeymoon ends and we get down to the real business of constructing a partnership out of the raw material of two diverse personalities, at least if we do it God's way.
Did the wooing cease? Admittedly it faltered at times and God had to pull us back on track, sometimes discouragingly often. But courtship takes different forms at different points in our growth and development. Now, as we near the end of our tape, with Nelda's advanced Alzheimer's, the courtship has had to take the form of mostly one-way care giving. But that's wooing, too, of a different and deeper nature. And with God's help it will continue until one of us goes home to be with Him.
Applicable quote of the day:
How far will you go with me, my Love?
To the stile or the bridge or the great oak tree?
The lane is a lonely and fearsome place
And there's no one journeying there but me.
She smiled at the stile with a sweet disdain,
She scoffed at the bridge and the great oak tree
And looked me full in the eyes and said,
"I will go to the end of the way with thee."
Then I loved her anew, with a strange fierce love,
As high as the stars and as deep as the sea.
She would share my heaven and share my woe;
She would go to the end of the Lane with me.
Recited by Harold Hawley in Roger and Nelda's wedding ceremony, December 25, 1949. (author unknown)