Saturday night we watched, "The Lake House." Every once in a while, I enjoy a good romance film (and I make someone else enjoy it with me). For a modern romance, this one wasn't too bad. The story of a young woman and a young man separated two years in time, but somehow able to communicate--and fall in love--through messages left in a mailbox at a house on a lake. Interesting enough. Acted well enough. Perfectly innocent. Not bad on the whole.
The surprising thing was my own reaction. I think I'm finally losing my taste for these films. It isn't that I don't like romance anymore. I do. I like it as much as I ever have. I relish a well told story about the conflict and compatibility of man and woman. I love to watch young lovers overcome great odds to be with one another. I love to see the lengths to which they will go for each other and the crazy things they will do. I love the elements of stolen moments, heartfelt proclamations, sweet embraces. I enjoy all these things, but from a new perspective.
After ten years of marriage and five children, we don't go ice skating alone hand-in-hand all that often anymore. It isn't every night I find myself in a glittery gold dress holding a glass of champagne in a white-gloved hand. And the barefoot midnight strolls on a beach are, well, non-existent. Oh, I still get the occasional flowers and chocolate and an evening out from time to time, but this is not really what I consider the most romantic part of marriage.
I believe the most romantic part of marriage is found in the day in and day out of ordinary life. Elinor Glyn once said, "Romance is the glamour that transforms the dust of everyday life into a golden haze." While I don't like Elinor Glyn or anything she worked for, I do see truth in this statement and would only change it to say, "Romance is the love that transforms the dust of everyday life into a golden haze." Glamour is flashy and bright, attention-grabbing, and self-focused. It may create illusion, but it is much too superficial to actually "transform" anything. Love, however, love can be so much more than that-- and it has the power to transform.
In marriage-- the overcoming of great odds, the conflict and compatibility, the crazy things we do, the stolen moments (any moment alone in this house I consider stolen), the heartfelt proclamations--they are all there, just without the glamour. And there is another difference too, they aren't about just me and him anymore. They are about us-- all seven of us.
God has designed family life very wisely. Marriage and children slowly train the will to move our love out of ourselves and focus it on others. And the longer I am in this school of love, the more I learn to appreciate its romance. Acts of selflessness are far more beautiful than flawless diamonds and they give me more joy than a pic-nic for two in the country. Small considerations, kind words, gentle encouragement, prayers offered, and sacrifices made-- both given and received-- can, and do, "transform the dust of everyday life into a golden haze." That is the romance I have become accustomed to and it makes the Hollywood kissing-in-the-rain variety appear so flat and lifeless.
I liked the title of this painting, "Dance Me to the End of Love" because that is what I hope we will do. I imagine couples going before us and others following after, each of us learning how to love one another, love the children that come along, and love our neighbors ever more and more perfectly until, at the end, we all meet up in heaven to love for all eternity. Now that's romance.