Recently, we came across this quote from Simone Weil, a 20th Century French philosopher, Christian mystic and political activist.
“God and humanity are like two lovers who have missed their rendezvouz. Each is there before the time, but each at a different place, and they wait, and wait, and wait. He stands motionless, nailed to the spot for the whole of time. She is distraught and impatient. But alas for her if she gets tired and goes away. …. The crucifixion of Christ is the image of the fixity of God. God is attention without distraction. One must imitate the patience and humility of God.”
(Simone Weil, “The Things of the World” in G. A. Panichas (ed.) The Simone Weil Reader (David McKay Company Inc., 1977, 424f.)
What a beautiful image as we move on from this Easter season…God waiting for us, the eternal lover, steadfast and patient, while we, restless and distracted, look for him but do not see him. He remains ever constant in his waiting.
We were also immediately struck by the comfortable way in which, in his description, God assumes the masculine persona and humanity the feminine. This is the prevailing imagery whenever mystics reflect on God as a lover and it asks the question: what distinguishes femininity from masculinity?
Some commentators have named it this way: The essence of masculinity is active initiation and the essence of femininity is active receptivity. Authentic masculinity initiates good, it initiates the dance of love and reaches out beyond itself, sacrificing himself in service and love. Genuine femininity proactively and generously responds to the masculine initiative, surrendering herself in service and love, allowing herself to receive the good of the other, nurturing it, bringing it to birth in all its fullness.
The two together create the dance of love and of intimacy – the lover and the beloved.
It is impossible to reflect on the feminine except in the context of the masculine and visa versa. Like yin and yang, the two mould and frame each other, illuminating that which is unique in the other by their mutual complementarity. This complementarity helps both lover and beloved to bond as they become interdependent, each relying on and appreciating the unique presence and contribution of the other. Each is of equal importance because without both, humanity cannot be fully defined.
For married couples, while sexual complementarity is core to what draws us together, like many things in life it is not without its complications. Our differences, often misunderstood, are a bit like those ‘missed rendezvous’ of which Simone Weil spoke. We try to connect but, standing in our different masculine and feminine ‘states’, we miss each other’s meanings and intention. With this in mind it is perhaps helpful to take inspiration from God and, again drawing on Weil’s image, remember that truly enduring love also involves infinite patience.
Francine & Byron Pirola are the founders and principal authors of the SmartLoving series. They are passionate about living Catholic marriage to the full and helping couples reach their marital potential. They have been married since 1988 and have five children.
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