40-Day Challenge: Longing (Day 18)

Begin with the Prayer of Abandonment.

Do you ever feel lonely in your marriage? I think most of us feel a bit isolated and disconnected from time to time. There have been times when I’ve wondered whether I should have stuck with my original plan (the one I was forming just before I met Craig) and joined a cloister – at least then there wouldn’t be so many socks to pick up.

What I only recently recognized was that even women religious feel this way about their Spouse – in the book Come Be My Light characterizes the life of Blessed Mother Teresa with two predominant themes: service and loneliness. This woman, who had poured out her entire life in service of the poor, even she felt a dark night of the soul that stretched on not just for days, but for years.

For married love, a memorable example may be found in the story of Abelard and Heloise. Heloise was a precocious teenager when she fell under the spell of the thirty-something troubadour-philosopher. When she became pregnant, Abelard proposed a secret marriage (secret to prevent ruining his academic career). Heloise’s uncle retaliated by announcing the union . . . then having Abelard castrated.  Heloise was sent away to have her baby, then consigned to the cloister by her beloved husband.

She went, but not happily.  The passion poured out of her (in Latin, no less) in her correspondence with her husband: “For I often come with parched throat longing to be refreshed by the nectar of your delightful mouth and to drink thirstily the riches scattered in your heart. What need is there for more words? With God as my witness I declare that there is no one in this world breathing life-giving air whom I desire to love more than you . . . “ (Heloise, Early Letters, 23, as quoted in James Burge’s Heloise & Abelard: A New Biography, 49).

To say that Abelard did not respond as she’d hoped is something of an understatement. The message was clear:  I don’t want to talk about it – that chapter is closed. In time, “the silence of Heloise” has become synonymous with strong emotions unrequited and unexpressed.

Today’s challenge:  That Heloise sure had a way with words. What would your husband do if you “borrowed” her sentiments and slipped a note in his lunch bag? (Or, if you have a pretty good memory and dramatic flair, and can pull it off without giggling, recite them one night after the kids are in bed!)

Today’s prayer: “You, O eternal Trinity, are a deep sea into which, the more I enter, the more I find, and the more I find, the more I seek. O abyss, O eternal Godhead, O sea profound, what more could you give me than yourself?”  (Catherine of Siena). 

Photo credit:  Abelard and Heloise (image by Edmund Blair Leighton)

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