We are made in the image of God, and our infinite desire can only be satisfied by the infinite nature of God. In the 17th century, French philosopher Blaise Pascal offered an account of the wound of our nature more in tune with secular sensibilities.
He claimed that the source of our sins and vices lay in our inability to sit still, be alone with ourselves, and ponder the unknowable. We seek out troublesome diversions like war, inebriation or gambling to preoccupy the mind and block out distressing thoughts that seep in: perhaps we are alone in the universe — perhaps we are adrift on this tiny rock, in an infinite expanse of space and time, with no friendly forces looking down on us.
The wound of our nature is the existential condition, Pascal suggests: thanks to the utter uncertainty of our situation, which no science can answer or resolve, we perpetually teeter on the brink of anxiety — or despair. Your soulmate, Hollywood says, may take a surprising, unexpected form — she may seem your opposite, but you are inexplicably attracted nonetheless.
Alternately, your beloved may appear to be initially boorish or aloof. But you find him to be secretly sweet. Hollywood films typically ends once the romantic heroes find their soulmates, offering no glimpse of life post-wedding bliss, when kids and work close in — the real test of love.
These are people who finish out their lives together and still cannot say what it is they want from one another. What if in your search for true love, you cast about waiting or expecting to be star-struck — in vain? Is this one reason why, as the Pew Research Center reports , we see a record number of unmarried Americans? Alternately, what if you dive into a relationship, marriage even, expecting the luster and satiation to endure, but it does not, and gives way to…ordinary life, where the ordinary questions and doubts and dissatisfactions of life reemerge and linger?
In his book Modern Romance , actor and comedian Aziz Ansari tells of a wedding he attended that could have been staged by Aristophanes himself:. They were saying the most remarkable things about each other. Romance is often the start of many headaches and heartaches. And why put such a burden on another person in the first place?
It seems unfair. Why look to your partner to heal an existential wound — to heal your soul? O tell of His might, O sing of His grace, Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space, His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form, And dark is His path on the wings of the storm. The earth with its store of wonders untold, Almighty, Thy power hath founded of old; Established it fast by a changeless decree, And round it hath cast, like a mantle, the sea.
Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite? It breathes in the air, it shines in the light; It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain, And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain. Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail, In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail; Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end, Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.
O measureless might! Ineffable love! While angels delight to worship Thee above, The humbler creation, though feeble their lays, With true adoration shall all sing Thy praise.
Praise, my soul, the King of heaven, To his feet thy tribute bring; Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, Who like me his praise should sing? Praise him! Praise the everlasting King! Praise him for his grace and favour To our fathers in distress; Praise him still the same for ever, Slow to chide, and swift to bless. Glorious in his faithfulness. Father-like he tends and spares us; Well our feeble frame he knows; In his hands he gently bears us, Rescues us from all our foes. Widely as his mercy flows. Angels, help us to adore him; Ye behold him face to face; Sun and moon, bow down before him, Dwellers all in time and space: Praise him!
Praise with us the God of grace. Praise to the Lord, the almighty, the King of creation! O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation: Come ye who hear, Brothers and sisters, draw near, Praise him in glad adoration! Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee! Surely his goodness and mercy shall daily attend thee: Ponder anew All the Almighty can do, He who with love doth befriend thee.
Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore him! All that hath life and breath come now with praises before him! Let the amen Sound from his people again: Gladly for aye we adore him! Words: Joachim Neander.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord! Unnumbered blessings, give my spirit voice; tender to me the promise of his word; in God my Saviour shall my heart rejoice. Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his Name! Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done; his mercy sure, from age to age the same; his holy Name, the Lord, the Mighty One. Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might!
Powers and dominions lay their glory by.
Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight, the hungry fed, the humble lifted high. Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word! Firm is his promise, and his mercy sure. That human life might richer be That children may be named and known, That love finds its own sanctuary, That those in love stay not alone. As two we love are wed this day And we stand witness to their vow, We call on God, the Trinity, To sanctify their pledges now. This is as God meant it to be, That man and woman should be one And live in love and love through life, As Christ on earth has taught and done.
Then, bless the bridegroom, bless the bride, The dreams they dream, the hopes they share; And thank the Lord whose love inspires Their joy, their lips and ours declare.
The grace of life is theirs who on this wedding day delight to make their vows and for each other pray. May they, O Lord, together prove the lasting joy of Christian love. Where love is, God abides: and God shall surely bless a home where trust and care give birth to happiness. May they, O Lord, together prove the lasting joy of such a love. How slow to take offence love is! How quick to heal! How ready in distress to know how others feel!
And when time lays its hand on all we hold most dear, and life, by life consumed, fulfils its purpose here: May we, O Lord, together prove the lasting joy of Christian love. Where streams of living water flow My ransomed soul he leadeth, And where the verdant pastures grow With food celestial feedeth.
Perverse and foolish oft I strayed, But yet in love he sought me, And on his shoulder gently laid, And home, rejoicing, brought me. And so through all the length of days Thy goodness faileth never; Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise Within thy house for ever. He makes me lie in pastures green. He leads me by the still, still waters, His goodness restores my soul.
And I will trust in You alone. Descant I will trust, I will trust in You. I will trust, I will trust in You. Endless mercy follows me, Goodness will lead me home. He guides my ways in righteousness, And He anoints my head with oil, And my cup, it overflows with joy, I feast on His pure delights. And though I walk the darkest path, I will not fear the evil one, For You are with me, and Your rod and staff Are the comfort I need to know.
We pledge to one another, before the Lord above, entire and whole and perfect, this union of our love — a love that will be patient, a love that will be wise, that will not twist with envy, nor lose itself in lies; a love that will not falter, a love to hold us fast, and bind us to each other as long as life shall last. We pray that God will guide us through all the years to be, our lives be shaped by courage, hope and serenity. Through joy and celebration, through loneliness and pain, may loyalty, compassion and tenderness remain, that those who share the blessing of love that cannot cease may walk the paths of gentleness into the place of peace.
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