Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, May 20, 2010
Marriage must incessantly contend with a
monster that devours everything: familiarity.
Honore de Balzac, French writer & poet,
born on this date, 1799,
Ah. Familiarity. It is said, proverbially, to “breed contempt”. But that is the challenge and the great gift of “marriage” – which we are not going to define too narrowly (you get my meaning).
There may be any number of reasons for honouring and for participating in Marriage. But I think Balzac has hit on the main one. We human beings are so easily prone to contempt, to judgmentalism, to cynicism, to a sneering dismissal of others. It is one of our worst human characteristics. It fills us with pride. It isolates us. It makes snobs of us. It inflates our Ego – never a good thing!
Choosing to live with one other person is to set oneself on a rigourous path of self-awareness and of learning to get out of one’s own way when it comes to maturing. I have certainly found this to be true in living with Dennis. The blessing is: I not only face self-awareness and truth, but our relationship makes it “easy” to WANT to learn what Familiarity teaches!
Jesus practically lived with His disciples. They certainly learned about themselves! But Jesus learned about Himself too. He learned to understand human beings – our fragility and our ignorance and our pride and our weaknesses of all sorts. Despite their failures, He loved them as they were, while teaching them and helping them to grow in humanity.
And despite the disciples’ faults, they learned enough to become faithful spokespeople for the Gospel. But their frailties remained – as do ours – forever.
Familiarity may breed contempt. But more wonderfully, Familiarity breeds Compassion and Understanding and Tenderness. If we come to understand this, we become as “God” – willing to give of ourselves to that great Mystery called the Human Race.