Married to God Lasts Forever!
Have you ever searched for an image, understanding, or wisdom to make sense of the death of a loved one, especially your wife?
If so, I have something to share with you.
It started when I attended Beloit Catholic High School in Beloit, Wisconsin. In 1969, our junior year, when I was 17, ecumenism was part of our religion class. One of our assignments was to visit four different denominations and write a report about what we learned.
Our next-door neighbors were Dorothy and Jack Richardson (I don’t know the relationship to you.) Jack belonged to the Seventh Day Adventist Church and Dorothy belonged to the Beloit United Methodist Church.
They both agreed to help me visit their churches for my religion project. One Sunday, Dorothy took me to her church, and I attended the service with her.
Dorothy and Jack never had any children, so living next to my family, with our six active kids (four boys, two girls), was challenging to them.
After that day, though, I became friends with Jack and her. Dorothy loved to play the organ and did that for her church services. She had a smaller organ at home and played often.
Several years later in life, Dorothy developed severe arthritis and had surgery to have the knuckles in her fingers replaced. After her recovery, she still played the organ at home. She loved music and played through the pain.
Dorothy developed cancer and passed away. I went to her funeral service at the United Methodist Church and her pastor gave one of the best sermons I’ve ever heard.
He likened death to coming to the end of the road construction after the heavy summer construction season, where the signs are posted, “End Construction,” with smooth driving ahead. Then, the next metaphor was life changing for me.
He told us, “When people die, you’ve heard it said, that ‘It’s curtains.’ But it’s not what you think. The curtains don’t go down – they go up. This life is like an overture, and when that overture is over, the curtains go up, not down. Then, the real concert begins.”
After the service, I was so inspired, I came home and wrote the poem, The Concert. I gave a copy to Jack in Dorothy’s honor. Several years later, Jack died a widower, and his nephew Gary read “The Concert” at Jack’s funeral.
I’ve shared this poem with friends and even in a Catholic newspaper.
Perhaps the greatest graces that came from this (and are still coming), is that I met my wife Cheryl when I went to a concert arranged by Sister Irene McCarthy, a Catholic Dominican religious nun who was the organist at my church and her piano/organ teacher.
That was in 1981. We married in 1982. We have an image of hope for this life – the overture, and one for the life to come – The Concert.
In 1996, I wrote “Song of Our Marriage” for my wife Cheryl, after she asked me to write a song for her.
As I grow older, I face the fact that my wife may die before I do, and that I will miss her physical presence. At times, I cry about her leaving, though not as much as I used to.
A Hidden Song Aspect – Side B
I’d like to share a hidden aspect of this song that gives me hope – and may be a sign of hope for you, too.
Do you remember the 45 rpm single music records, that have a Side A and a Side B?
Every 45 rpm single record has an “A” side and a “B” side. The “A” side is the hit song; the “B” side is a lesser known song by the same artist.
Except sometimes, the “B” side becomes more famous than the “A” side. It becomes a double hit single record.
The most famous single by the Beatles had the “B” side, “When I Saw Her Standing There,” which was on the back of the “A” side, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
Both of those songs talk about a guy loving a woman. My wife and I live both of those songs during our time together here on earth. When I saw her standing there, at the concert in Madison, I knew that I wanted to hold her hand. God’s word was coming true for me.
There is a Side A and Side B to “The Song of Our Marriage.”
Side A of “The Song of Our Marriage” is about this life – the joys and companionship of married life here. A husband sings to his wife (both now and in eternity.)
Side B is the “curtains go up” side – a duet between a person and Jesus. Jesus sings the verses to us; we sing the refrain to Jesus, “Teacher of Wisdom, You’ve shown me God’s face…” It’s a song of love and hope, life now and life after death.
The “B” side of Song of Our Marriage is a duet, the very same lyrics and music as Side “A”, but with two different singers. Side “B” is a concert between Jesus and us as individuals. Jesus sings the verses to us; we sing the refrain back to Jesus. In the very last verse, Jesus sings to us,
Held and beholden, you make up My dreams.
The life we have chosen is more than it seems,
We’re married forever with God as our guide:
I will always be with you, My bride.
When I was going through my anxious moments, I was comforted by the Scripture from the Gospel of John, Chapter 3:29. John the Baptist is telling his followers to focus on Jesus, and not on himself.
John uses the words, “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom, the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete. He (Jesus) must increase; I must decrease.”
To put away my fears and anxieties about my wife dying, I had to step a:side, so that Jesus may be b:side her.
Jesus is the real bridegroom for every human being. He has my wife as His bride. I’ve been her best man during our earthly life together. No one can love my wife like Jesus can. No one will ever love her like God will.
The reason I am able to love my wife the way I have, was because I received that love from Jesus. All these mornings while I was praying in my chair. The Masses. The rosaries. The Our Fathers we say together. Our 5 minutes praying with a candle at night. Those times and others were the times when God gave me the love for my wife. I know that I am not perfect. I do the best I can.
Someday, our physical bodies will die and we will step a:side.
My hope is that each of us will be b:side Jesus and that we will join one another one day in heaven.
Bible Verses About God Marrying Us
There are several passages from the Bible, where the sacred author uses marriage imagery. Here are a few if my favorites.
On that day, it will be said to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.Zephaniah 3:16-17
“As a young man married a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”Isaiah 62:5
For he who has become your husband is your Maker, his name is the Lord of hosts.Isaiah 54:5
I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In lovingkindness and in compassion,
And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.
Then you will know the Lord.
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.Revelation 21:2
Jesus is always with each of us. His love is gentle, kind, and unconditional. All of the qualities of 1 Corinthians 13, which we read on our wedding day.
On our wedding day, my wife wore a white wedding dress, and I wore a white tuxedo. When we were baptized as infants, we wore white baptismal gowns. When we move on from this earthly life, we hope to be wearing the shining white garb of Heaven. Years ago, for Easter, 1997 I wrote a poem “An Easter Sonnet” to remember this belief:
An Easter Sonnet
I will wear white, dear,
When you walk to the tomb
past the valley of fear
through a garden in bloom.
I will wear white, friend,
when dew covers the earth.
the morning is night’s end –
in Jesus, new birth.
I will wear white, love,
when I draw out that new breath
to celebrate our Father,
who brings life out of death.
I will wear white, love,
I will wear white.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, fear, or depression with thoughts about a pending or past death of a loved one, consider the wisdom I am sharing with you here.
It is hard-won wisdom, that came from many years of searching for a way to hope and cope after a loved one dies.
At the concert of heaven, the curtains “go up.” The best is yet to come.