Ebony and Ivory

A few months ago my fiancée and I attended our pre-cana weekend retreat. It was a good opportunity for us to consider what happens after the ceremony, and to focus on the sacramental aspects of what we’ll be doing in just about eight months’ time.

Not to mention, it gave me some good ideas for topics to write about …

In fact one of the things we liked about the weekend was how much writing it involved. Before discussing any of the topics they gave us, we would spend some time alone writing about it. Then we would each read what the other had written; then we would talk about it. The process worked well enough that we’ve considered using this same method in the future whenever an important issue might arise between us.

Speaking for myself, I’ve always found writing to be a very prayerful, almost a sacramental activity. There is something about the process — composing my thoughts, arranging them within the rules of grammar and syntax, finding just the right word that best expresses an elusive bit of thought – that seems in a uniquely effective way of opening my heart and my mind to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

In her wonderful little book Walking on Water, Madeline L’Engle writes a great deal about the divine inspiration of the creative process, the equating of artistic expression with prayer, of serving one’s art as a way of serving God. It’s a short little book, an easy read which I make a point of rereading at least once a year. The book was a gift — from the very woman, as it happens, that I plan to marry soon.

At some point during our weekend retreat, we talked about how our relationship can serve as a sacramental sign of God’s love, of the love God intends us to show toward all our brothers and sisters, of the bonds of communion within the Church. I was reminded of this on Sunday as we sat together in the pew – one of the only times recently that we didn’t have to lead the music and could simply participate as ordinary parishioners.

Still, as we joined in the offertory hymn, she sang harmony to my melody. Our voices blended, not in unison but always harmonious in our differences. A metaphor, hopefully, for a future together — and also, I’d like to think, for the future of our Church.

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