She went to the cupboard in the kitchen to retrieve her favorite mug as she began her day in the manner she did every morning. The simple habit of pouring coffee was a comforting prelude to settling into the cushions of the couch which were permanently shaped to her form due to years of service. As she savored the morning’s first sip of black gold, she reached for the tattered box filled with old letters from the one she loved. He no longer shared her earthly existence. He had died many years ago. So many years that she could hardly comprehend the distance. Reading the letters, though, brought back the sound of his strong voice, speaking with confidence, assurance, and overwhelming love. The voice she heard as she read was not dimmed by the distance of time. The words were spoken as if they were coming from one sitting next to her in the perfectly shaped cushions by her side.
They had been bride and bridegroom. In her mind and heart, they still were. His love for her was an eternal one, and his letters said so. As she lingered over the love letters, she recalled the passion of their new love, so many years ago. While reading a particularly familiar letter, she was reminded of the first time they met. To be honest, she was offended by his approach. He was brash and demanding, at first sight. He hadn’t tried to flatter her. Instead, his words caught her attentions because they were honest observations of the intentions of her heart. The words were bold, convicting… and true. The strange part was that as he spoke, his demeanor wasn’t one of condemnation, but of gentle persuasion. Against her own arguments, she found herself drawn to this remarkable man. One of the most outlandish statements he made was that he was a king, while everyone could see he was nothing more than a carpenter.
As she spent more time around him, she found herself falling for him. Her heart ached with longing for a closer, permanent love affair with him. Finally, in a rush of passion that overcame her stubborn, willful objections, she gave herself to him and to his care. Her love for him began with a fiery heat. It was all she could talk, and think about. With time, however, the emotional fervor waned and she found herself drifting in her committment occasionally. In fact, there were times when she actually took other lovers and went out on her own. All the while, he was in the distance, reaching out to her in a variety of ways. During these times, she knew he must be angry and hurt, but never did he stop speaking to her, even from a distance. Eventually, the other loves faltered. His love had a fullness she couldn’t find anywhere else. Finally, she would come back to him, aware that she didn’t deserve him. She would ask his forgiveness, and receive his ring.
One lover became particularly dangerous. She grew tired of the lover’s repeated atrocities towards her and she sought to walk away from his control. When told of her intention of leaving him, the lover drew a weapon, determined to either keep her as slave or kill her outright. As her attacker thrust the weapon with an evil hiss towards her unprotected heart, her unseen husband stepped between them and took the deadly wound intended for her. The evil lover fled, never touching her again… although he often calls and threatens. Finding the blood of her husband streaming over her own body, she once again heard his voice, “I forgive you, you didn’t know what you were doing.”
How could she not love such a husband? Her inheritance from his estate provides for her needs and his love continues to reach out to her from eternity. He is alive again. She knows because she always hears his affirming, directing voice whenever she reads his letters. So, she established and continues the daily habit we have observed through her window. His letters continue to carry her forward to the time they will meet face to face. She longs for that moment.
When she speaks of her husband to her friends, their faces clouded over. They don’t understand her passion for a lover she can’t see or touch. Some of them openly riducule her love affair by calling her the “Eternal Bride” with smirks filled with superiority. Her more polite friends hide their disbelief behind masks of supportive caring; listening to her a one would an elderly aunt who is losing her grip on reality. Nevertheless, her friends envy the selfless, undaunted passion with which she approaches life. The love of her husband strengthens her, she explains. His love, “fills in the valleys,” and “brings down the mountains.” They can neither explain her motivation nor equal her calm assurance inspite of overwhelming circumstances. Her strength and purpose seem to flow from the relationship of which she speaks while they, in turn, are lose in self-absorbed emptiness.
One particular facet of her life which causes her friends to shake their heads in confused wonder, are the ongoing conversations she has with her husband. Since she has become such a valued friend, many find themselves confiding in her about their personal struggles. Invariably, she responds that she must speak to her husband about it. Sometimes, she even retreats with the friend to an inconspicuous place and begins to speak to her husband as if he were in the room. A disturbing aspect of this peculiarity is that, many times, their problems begin to work out. She explains that her husband acted on their behalf. One thing seems evident: when she speaks to her husband, the unexplained sometimes happens… Life-changing power accompanies the letter reading and continuing conversations. Her friends seem to be drawn to the power in her life. Intrigued, each friend eventually asks her the name of her long gone, ever present, powerful husband. She responds by quoting his words from one of his letters:
“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they might die; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
From another letter she quotes:
“I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valley.”
“I am the Alpha and Omega, who is, and who was, and is to come, the Almighty… Do not be afraid. I am the First and Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”
“He is my beloved,” she tells them, “his name is Jesus and I am his eternal bride.”
Her friends are amazed at her sense of security and resilience the relationship gives her and, eventually, she leads them as they, too, accept him as their lover, friend, leader, provider, savior…
So we watch through a window as she condinues her early morning ritual that keeps the power of her husband coursing through her life. The coffee is good, the couch is familiar, and the love is eternal