Checking in...

Yesterday, the area that I live in held its annual convention to elect a delegate to the National Convention of Baha'i in the United States. Every year, the convention seems to get better and better for me. I'm understanding more about how the process works these days, and that is a blessing. I used to go to what was called district convention for years, and wonder why I was there. It wasn't that people weren't doing what we were asked to do during convention. It's just that my head was so cloudy at the time with all of my overeating, I really couldn't comprehend much of anything. That I was able to not only understand what was going on at convention, but also fully participate in the process is, to me, a miracle and testament to God's transformative power. I never realized how much overeating affected my thinking process and interactions with other people. The way I know that now is that some clarity has arisen from the act of remaining abstinent from excess and/or my addictive foods. It's a completely new feeling. Instead of waking up in dread "another day on this !@#$ diet" and merely holding on until I'm able to eat a meal, I'm just taking life on life's terms. Sometimes life is great; sometimes it sucks in ways I don't understand. But I'm showing up for all it. And that's much better than anything I've done in the past.

One of the things that I completely rejected during my years of mental cloudiness has been a honest and openminded acceptance of the "Fortress of Well-Being" also known as marriage. My compulsive overeating had a lot to do with that, but there was another factor--I was once married. I could describe that marriage as "the fortress of no-being" because I almost became something less than human within it. I definitely felt that way at the time, and with all the weight that I gained, I looked that way, too. But I'm not married anymore, and I haven't been for 22 years. I'm still not ready for that kind of commitment, but I can at least accept that marriage CAN BE good for some people. During my cloudy days, when people talked about marriage or wanting to get married, I would roll my eyes and mutter under my breath, "Yeah, that's what you say now. Come talk to me again in a year."

When I was at Bosch at the workshop with Linda and Dan Popov, I would spend my break time in the library, skimming through as many books as I could. I sat down at one of the tables, and glanced at book that was on top of pile of assorted volumes. The title was "Baha'i Marriage and Family Life". I groaned inwardly. Two months ago, my mind was just getting clear of the clouds, so my attitude was a bit different. But as luck, or more accurately, God would have it, I was open enough to know when I was supposed to listen and learn. So I opened the book. This is the first passage that I read:

Bahá'í marriage is the commitment of the two parties one to the other, and their mutual attachment of mind and heart. Each must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever. Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity....

The true marriage of Bahá'ís is this, that husband and wife should be united both physically and spiritually, that they may ever improve the spiritual life of each other, and may enjoy everlasting unity throughout all the worlds of God. This is Bahá'í marriage

(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 118)

The idea that a man and a women could be united physically and spiritually, improve each other's spiritual life and ENJOY everlasting unity throughout all of the worlds of God is more than a little intriguing to me. How is that possible? I know it is conceptually, but HOW is it done? Most marriages I see are just barely keeping together through all the "Did you pay the electric bill?" "My mother's cornbread (or spaghetti, meatloaf, whatever) didn't taste like this," or "For once, would you just shut up and listen to me?" My own parents just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and I have to say that they don't have much in the way of unity that I would want in my own life.

As for my marriage experience, well, on our last day together my ex- husband and I tried to kill each other. Literally. That's not very unifying, is it? The only thing good about that incident is that I didn't land in jail, even though I was trying to crack his head open with a closet pole . He was hauled off, though. That probably had something to do with the fact that he was swinging 12" Bowie hunting knife at me. The police didn't seem to like the fact that he didn't put the knife down when they drew their weapons on him. This probably explains why I have an unenthusiastic attitude about marriage. And that was just the finale. The whole opera was an out of tune tragedy.

I have little else to base my opinions of marriage. I've seen people who seem like they are very happy together, but then again, people thought my ex and were happy. That's very amusing to me. Talk about big time frontin'. Yet, I have seen the energy that exists between a few couples, some Baha'i and some not. These couples respect each other completely, even when they differ. They have a lot of amusement about life and about their relationship, and they can laugh easily at each other's foibles. And they seem to know each other in ways that even family members don't. I enjoy watching them. And I admit, I'm a bit envious. I've never experienced that level of ease in a relationship. Of course, I realize that these couples probably went through a lot to get to that stage. And they don't seem to know that they make an appealing case the institution of marriage because of how they conduct their lives together. I admire that a great deal.

So here it is: I want to know more. I want to see more. If anyone reading this blog is happily married or knows about a happily married couple, please tell me about it here. I would appreciate the information. I am willing to let go of my past, enjoy the present and feel something more than anxiety and dread when I peer into my future. In other words, I'm asking for examples of hope. Hope is a powerful tool for getting through the day. I wouldn't make the effort to remain abstinent without it, and I want to know that at some point, it is possible to create a different life for myself that involves a man. Being united throughout the worlds of God with a spouse is more appealing than the giant Snicker's bar that was calling my name last week.

Among the majority of the people marriage consists of physical relationship and this union and relationship is temporary for at the end physical separation is destined and ordained. But the marriage of the people of Baha must consist of both physical and spiritual relationship for both of them are intoxicated with the wine of one cup, are attracted by one Peerless Countenance, are quickened with one Life and are illumined with one Light. This is the spiritual relationship and everlasting union. Likewise in the physical world they are bound together with strong and unbreakable ties.

When relationship, union and concord exist between the two from a physical and spiritual standpoint, that is the real union, therefore everlasting. But if the union is merely from the physical point of view, unquestionably it is temporal and at the end separation is inevitable.

Consequently when the people of Baha desire to enter the sacred union of marriage, eternal connection and ideal relationship, spiritual and physical association of thoughts and conceptions of life must exist between them, so that in all the grades of existence and all the worlds of God this union may continue forever and ever for this real union is a splendor of the light of the love of God.

Likewise if the souls become real believers they will find themselves ushered into this exalted state of relationship, becoming the manifestors of the love of the Merciful and exhilarated with the cup of the love of God. Undoubtedly that union and relationship is eternal.

The souls who sacrifice self, become detached from the imperfections of the realm of man and free from the shackles of this ephemeral world, assuredly the splendors of the rays of divine union shall shine in their hearts and in the eternal paradise they shall find ideal relationship, union and happiness.

(Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 372)
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