Tomorrow's Marriage and Dates on Your Tombstone
Dear old and new friends,
Today’s marriage vows have remained unchanged for centuries except from the relatively recent historic deletion of the bride’s vow to “obey.” However, those vows need to evolve. Some readers may stop here saying, “I’m not married, so this reflection doesn’t apply to me.” But please read on because marriage is only the introduction to this reflection which is about your tomorrow. The conventional marriage vows today conclude with “…in sickness and health until death do us part” or “…all the days of my life.”
Love before marriage wasn’t even considered a reality until the 18th century. Today’s acceptance of marriage as a sexually exclusive, romantic union between one man and one woman is a rather recent historic development. Today half of all American marriages end not by death but by divorce…and there are those who fall in love and live as life partners without ever being married. Realistically that pledge of “until death do us part” is the desired ideal and could be compared to the rings on a tree that grow yearly. A happy loveship (more intimate than friendship) lived with loving fidelity, affection and care grows daily into much more than “until death do us part.”
That “much more” is expressed in a possible new four-word ending to our marriage vows promising love “…in sickness, health and death for all eternity.” The theologian Diarmuid O’ Murchu recalls author Michael Talbot’s words, “We are, as the aborigines say, just learning how to survive in infinity.” In addition, he says, “At this stage of our human evolution the human mind can scarcely grasp the notion of the infinite.” He then challenges us by saying the most controversial principle of quantum theology is, “The concepts of beginning and end, along with the theological notions of resurrection and reincarnation are invoked as dominate myths to help us humans make sense of our infinite destiny in an infinite universe.”
We have been taught God is eternal, without a beginning or end, and it seems heretical to conceive of ourselves in the same way, but the new quantum physics dares us to do so. We proclaim that the Christian God is love, and so that love surely shares in the Divine’s infinity. To daily attempt to live with the conviction that you will live forever radically transforms how you view today’s daily little hangnail irritations. Marvelously, you don’t have to create some great masterpiece to become immortal.
As we struggle with this new conception of personal infinity may we find support in Woody Allen, the American film actor, director and writer. He has been acclaimed a genius by the French and praised by Americans as one of the greatest film directors of modern times. Allen himself is more lighthearted: “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work, I want to achieve it through not dying!”