When I was in India many years ago, I visited a Buddhist shrine. Now there are not a lot of Buddhist shrines in India despite it being the homeland of the Buddha. I watched as devotees, placed garlands and fruit at the feet of the serene and solid Buddhist statue. But the truly amazing was when a young woman opened up a small vial of what looked like paint and brushed it on the face of the statue. It was gold leaf. As one Buddhist put it “The Buddha’s statue is our refuge , but the gold is our adoration”.
The statue is our refuge but the gold is our adoration. Let us ponder that a bit. Think of all that you rely on in being with the ones you love. They bring you a certain sense of peace on good days, and annoyance on bad days. I can rely on my children to call me on my birthday. I can rely on them to call me when they need something. There is an understanding, a connection there. Not always what we might hope for but a connection none the less. Love is most often not the miraculous but the reliable. It is the basis for the day to day relationships we have. Ellen Goodman one of my favorite columnists once wrote: “We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry, or because they remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck. But part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness in living day to day.”
The statue of our love is what we truly married to. In any relationship, it’s the little daily acts that hold a relationship together. And it entails, reciprocity, forgiveness and gratitude. Honestly, we are not married to love when those we love are never returning the favors of our love. It’s not a bank balance sheet but it is a feeling that you could rely on that person if you needed them. What is your best friend? The person you call in the middle of the night to bail you out of jail.
But we need the glitter as well. We need the amazement. It is the glitter that amazes me. It needs to be a little unusual, a little edgy even, but don’t ever be afraid of surprising the ones you love. Every year, my father would throw a surprise birthday party for my mother. Now she could count on him to throw the party but she was almost always surprised in how he did it. She would make him promise to never do it again, but he would. He would because he understood that amazement was necessary to love.
I try to carry love's glitter forward as well. Frances and I just celebrated 26 years together in the beautiful vineyards of Santa Ynez. We all have our struggles, but a bit of glitter, helps us be an inspiration to those we love. It’s not always so. We shouldn’t stay with people who are not treating us well, or where it’s all one way and not another. No amount of amazement will make that right. But even the most fragile relationship can be made better by a little amazement. We all need a little glitter as well.
With Grace and Grit, John