I am a physician to a couple who divorced over ten years ago. They still remain secretly in love. Complicated medical conditions, financial hardship, and growing life challenges pushed them apart, yet once the dust settled their love sprung them back together. Two years ago, they remarried, but never told their kids.
Through thunderous evens at Sinai, amid God’s romantic voice and silent whispers, we married. Twice we were given the Ketubah. Once It was written by God alone, smashed by Moses; the second time It was written with our participation. The entire universe conspired; all of His creation became silent through the utterance of the Ten Commandments.
And then, swiftly, without a pause, the honeymoon was over.
The next chapter is long, arduous, and full of codes of conduct, regulations, prohibitions, and worse, punishments for transgression. What happened to Prince Charming who saved us from enslavement, courted us in the desert with clouds by day, stars by night, Manna at our whim?
Few pages later, we are given specific dimension and materials to be used in constructing the tabernacles. Dry rules. Specific gifts? What happened to romance?
Mount Sinai, where the Bible was given, is not considered a holy place. It does not become a pilgrimage site. Holiness is of God and sacred acts. When a physician cures a patient of disease, that is holy. When a mother tends to an ailing child, that is sacred. When one loves and is loved in return, God’s spirit caresses those souls. When we take time to express our gratitude for the given food, or to acknowledge God’s blessings, we enact what is holy. The mountain is not holy, but God is. The act of bringing God’s presence to earth is holy. To love is sacred.
Holiness, we are taught, is found in sacred deeds, space and time.
Love, too, is insufficient in a feeling; true love is in doing. Love is opening our shell, making ourselves vulnerable, and giving to the beloved at our own cost, for her betterment, for his happiness. While the thought counts, action, the conversion of saying "I love you" to "here is the rose you enjoy" is what seals empty words into memorable deeds.
True love is found in a life lived with rules forward, and endeared with romance in hindsight.
As soon as the honeymoon is over, the work of love begins. Imagining a garden of paradise is beautiful, but building one on this rugged earth is holy. Imagining “happily ever after” is romantic, but tending to a sick spouse and seeing her beauty despite time’s physical ravages is sacred.
Life chews us up and spits us out, but that is no reason for us to become bile.
And yes, there can be love even in divorce. Many couples grow apart by life, yet reshape their love to continue respect, encourage growth, and pray for the happiness of the other that was once “My Beloved.” And that is even holier, yet.