My ex-wife used to stand in our living room and ask: "How can you sit there and stare at those Van Gogh paintings for a solid hour...sometimes I'm convinced you're crazy like he was crazy." I said, "First, no one ever, truly, established Vincent was crazy and second I don't think that any person with 82 pairs of shoes in the closet who believes that a trip to Nine West is a religious experience can label someone crazy."
Not surprisingly, we divorced --but it had nothing to do with "Cafe Terrace at Night" or "Sheaves of Wheat,” or, for that matter, shoes...it had to do with self-centeredness and ego. A friend sent me a text message on yesterday announcing the break-up of a marriage.
So of course, I thought about my Dad. Which I do a lot-- he’s been dead for 38 years, but does one ever, really, get past the death of their father? We’re all searching for our fathers, or trying to place another in that role. When your Dad dies, your childhood officially closes. He wrote or said this in a sermon:
"The first hunger within a man is to connect with God, the second hunger is to find and achieve his destiny.The third is know that his life matters."
As I remembered this, it struck me that marriage (for most American men) remains at odds with all three hungers. Our connection with God must be our own--from th deepest depth of our individual heart and soul. Our destiny is our own-- others can surely help, but destiny is unique to the individual. Our life must matter to us before its outward expression can be earnest and valid toward others.
There is, as I see it, a single valid reason for getting married: Trust.
a.) What’s the value of loving someone you cannot trust?
b.) What’s the value of intimacy with someone you cannot trust?
c.) What’s the value of the company of someone you cannot trust?
d.) Can you be secure with someone you cannot trust?
I always liked Tony Soprano because he valued loyalty above all else. Tony, as an archetype, was looking for people he could trust. Though he wasn’t exactly a trustworthy husband, father business partner, nor family boss, he craved in others what he lacked within himself.
Tony craved redemption by projecting his weaknesses onto others and demanding, from them, salvation-- and when they could not save him, he lashed out at them from this place of unique pain.
Tony Soprano is the icon of the 21st century American male. It isn’t pretty guys, but it is what it is. We’re more like Tony than the dreadful Cliff Hutaxble.
Carmela, I think, was Roman Catholic-- if I remember, she had a ‘near-miss’ dalliance with a Priest in an earlier episodes. Was Tony an RC? What did he believe? Did he, in his private moments, have a passion to know God? Was Tony Soprano a person of faith?
Back to the text message: I tried to think of what my Dad would say-- so, here is what I wrote:
"...one of the simple, elegant and haunting truths about our 'walk of faith,' is that that God enters into every situation to work things out according to His ultimate will and purpose. When I coached [at a Christian school] I would remind my players that God is 'interested in your lives'...He isn't same 'far-flung disconnected Deity,' but real...someone with whom you can communicate with through prayer and listening. When one recognizes that about our heavenly Father-- the fact He is THERE-- a transformation begins to occur...in how we think, act and live. And that, clearly, transcends matters of divorce and separation...God is just bigger than all of that. This realization energizes one to do more that cope-- it helps you, literally, to go on. We blame ourselves for our choices-- and, most time, we are correct in accepting responsibilities...for ultimately, we each live the life we chose to live. And yes, YOUR self-centeredness and ego destroyed your relationship. Don’t ever blame the other person.
Yet, within that, are opportunities for God-inspired course corrections that enable us to end the journey at the place that was our appointed destiny. My father--who is deceased-- reminded me no 'person of faith starts out on the journey knowing how it will end.' The journey, fundamentally, is about daily acts of trust designed to bind, galvanize and immerse us in the reality of God-- and, what He wants to be in our lives."
Haopy New Year!