Side-By-Side

If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you. ~ A. A. Milne

Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and wept aloud.(Genesis 29:11 | NRSV)

Side-by-side they reclined, distinct yet coupled by choice. This was not the beginning of time but still another in a stream of days enlightened by understanding and shaded by the comfort of knowing and being known. He had worked for her; she had waited for him. This was life the way God intended–not Edenic perfection, but tiptoeing to the edge of it and peeking over hand-in-hand. She completed him; not in the sense of losing track of where she ended and he began, but a far deeper vein of filling what was absent before her. To say a higher power brought them together would be gross understatement–neither stars aligning nor happenstance, this was the handiwork of God. What led her to him and him to her were choices forged on the harsh anvil of unyielding existence and resilience born of a hard journey, but like the Star of Bethlehem that blooms despite the onslaught of summer, the desert did not extinguish the flame.

They could not know what lay in store–ceaseless wandering, prosperity and poverty, peace and war, childbirth and life ending labor, but here they were, together. Oneness is sacred trust. “When it’s gone, you’ll know what a gift love was. You’ll suffer like this. So go back and fight to keep it” (Ian McEwen). He squeezed her hand but said nothing; what passed between them was eloquence enough. He loved her, and that was all there was to it and all there would ever be.

So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), and Jacob set up a pillar at her grave; it is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day. (Genesis 35:19-20 | NRSV)

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