Advent Reflections from a Young Married Man: On Public Praise and Blessing

“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:

6A Song of Songs 6.1-10                         On Praise and Blessing

1. Where has your beloved gone, O fairest among women?  Which way has your beloved turned, that we may seek him with you? 2. My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to pasture his flock in the gardens, and to gather lilies.  3. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he pastures his flock among the lilies.  4.  You are beautiful as Tirzah, my love, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.  5. Turn away your eyes from me, for they overwhelm me!  Your hair is like a flock of goats, moving down the slopes of Gilead.  6. Your teeth are like a flock of ewes, that have come up from the washing; all of them bear twins, and not one among them is bereaved.  7.  Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil. 8. There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and maidens without number. 9. My dove, my perfect one, the darling of her mother, flawless to her that bore her.  The maidens saw her and called her happy; the queens and concubines also, and the praised her.  10. “Who is this that looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?” Advent reminds us that there is power in public praise and blessing.  And there is no better method for enriching the soul bond.

I once heard an aging woman tease her husband in half jest.  He had just remarked: “Love is blind.”  She responded in relief: “I know, I would have been sunk years back if it were not.”  Her self-image was far from, “bursting forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun.”   On another instance, I listened to a young married couple on the fifth day after bearing their first child.  They were awkward in ways.  Yet, as the young mother fumbled her way through caring for the child, the young father leaned over and said in front of friend and family, “You are doing great, honey.”

Somewhere in between these interactions I think we can learn a great deal.  Young love expresses heroic praise. Old love knows that glory fades.  How can we live somewhere in between?  How can young passion be tempered with the wisdom of love, which endures beyond the loss of glory?  And how can old love continue to praise the beloved?

Simeon, that Advent giver of blessing teaches us this way.  He like Anna had a beautiful spirit, filled with wisdom and yet with room for praise. In a crowded courtyard, he spotted this young family and showered blessings upon them.  It seems like a simple thing.  Yet to see glory and call it forth, even when it looks like awkward or aging degeneration, taps into the heart of love and into that which Mary had reflected, “You have lifted up the humble.”  And praise in public settings even when praise may not be deserved especially lifts lovers in confidence: “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”