Advent Reflections from a Young Married Man: The Garden Gate

“In the coming weeks, I will post seventeen short Advent reflections on the Song of Songs from a young man learning to be a lover and a husband, who at the same time struggles to plant his worth as the beloved Bride of Christ.  My guiding question:

How does the birth of God’s Son transform the broken projects of struggling lovers into aspirations for soul mating?

Click here to read the general introduction:

4B: Song of Songs 4.8-16                       The Garden Gate

8. Come with me from Lebanon, my bride; come with me from Lebanon.  Depart from the peak of Amana, from the peak of Senir and Hermon, from the dens of lions, from the mountains of leopards.  9.  You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride, you have ravished my heart with a glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.  10. How sweet is your love, my sister, my bride! how much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than any spice!  11. Your lips distill nectar, my bride; honey and milk are under your tongue; the scent of your garments is like the scent of Lebanon. 12. A garden locked is my sister my bride, a garden locked, a fountain sealed.  13. Your channel is an orchard of pomegranates with all choicest fruits, henna with nard, nard and saffron, clamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all chief spices- a garden fountain, a well of living water, and flowing streams from Lebanon.  16.  Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden that its fragrance may be wafted abroad.  Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits.

Advent reminds us that for the sake of true love, our hearts must find their way through obstacles to openness.

When Zechariah encountered the angel and its message, he responded with a question: “how can I be sure of this?”  Mary responded with a question and a declaration, “how will this be” and “May it be to me according to your word.”

When it comes to love and love of God, the difference between these two responses stretches like a wide gulf.  The difference is openness.

The bed of many lovers swings between these responses.  In closed suspicion, one lover questions their beloved with reluctance: how can I be sure of this?  The man in our Song describes his lover as a locked garden.  As the pressure mounts in our day for girls to pry open their garden gates, garden locks surely remain a blessing.  But when the marriage day comes, young women must learn to open and young men must prove themselves worthy.  In an age of divorce it is not enough to say, “You married me, or I married you.”  We men must show proof first that we are good gardeners.  Otherwise we will find ourselves as beggars at the locked gate of our mating destiny.

While a man searches to prove his ability that he can enjoy the subtle growth of foliage and the mystery of the flower’s scent, the woman gently allows the Spirit to awaken her and grants that her beloved come to his garden and eat the choicest of fruits: “may it be to me, young man, according to your word.”

The joy of our divine Soul Mate rests in His character.  He is good and faithful.  And when His lover responds with openness, the divine embrace becomes like never ending source of joy and strength in a broken down world.  There in the garden of our souls, we can let the choices of fruits be picked, for unless we give them away we will forget they exist and our glory turns into isolated compost.  We owe it to ourselves to let worthy lovers and the Worthy Beloved eat our best produce in a covenant of love.

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Advent Reflections from a Young Married Man: Criticism and Appreciation

“In the coming weeks, I will post seventeen short Advent reflections on the Song of Songs from a young man learning to be a lover and a husband, who at the same time struggles to plant his worth as the beloved Bride of Christ.  My guiding question:

How does the birth of God’s Son transform the broken projects of struggling lovers into aspirations for soul mating?

Click here to read the general introduction:

4A: Song of Songs 4.1-7                          Criticism and Appreciation

1. How beautiful you are, my love, how very beautiful! Your eyes are doves behind your veil.  Your hair is like a flock of goats, moving down the slopes of Gilead.  2. Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes that have come up from the washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them is bereaved.  3. Your lips are like a crimson thread, and your mouth is lovely.  your cheeks are like halves of pomegranate behind your veil. 4. Your neck is like the tower of David, built in courses; on it hang a thousand bucklers, all of them shields of warriors.  5.  Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, that feed among the lilies.  6. Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, I will hasten to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense.  7. You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.

For some, infatuation burns like mist in the dating years.  For others, it happens after marriage or when a baby comes.  But how can we, in our relationships transform infatuation into realistic appreciation like the magi who gifted the babe mountains of myrrh and hills of frankincense? 

Any truthful spouse or partner would never utter these words: “there is no flaw in you.”  Yet, some have found a way to appreciate their spouse so that the interpretive lens through which they experience their spouse is positive.

We all are sick humans in one way or another.  We need one another not to remind us of our flaws but to call forth the best of what is in us.  We each have a unique life calling placed within our spirits, which unfolds like a growing flower.  How sweet it is when our spouse does that for us.

Rather than criticizing how much one spouse spends cleaning, the other must see how a clean environment helps the other thrive.  Rather than criticizing how little one spouse cleans, the other must see how the other thrives as they enjoy life despite a messy situation.  And both have the responsibility to clean and to lay off one another. When two evoke the best in the other while serving them as well, then appreciation takes command.  Then we get in the place where appreciation leads to passion, where we begin to see just how lovely are eyes, hair, lips, cheeks, necks, breasts.  Then we learn the difficult task of loosing ourselves in one another until the shadows flee and we see in the dawn before us hills of frankincense.