for Hailey . . .
I planted a Mandevilla vine late spring near the deck. The soil was good; the container was large enough for growing a large happy plant. Tom prepared a trellis for its potential climbing. The young creeper looked promising, healthy and strong, green vibrant with life. After a few days, long slender runners were wild growing in every direction; they were not about to climb anything. Hum-m. I would have to train these young expressions of Mandevilla.
Everyday I would gently wrap thin, wispy tendrils around the strong parts of the trellis. Of course, they would come off, and the next day, I would rewrap. It was as if these young vines had a mind of their own as they floundered and blew aimlessly in the wind.
I was patient.
Carefully placing tender vines around the ‘strong tower’ one morning after a heavy windstorm, I smiled, “this is like marriage.” I remembered our first years and how much we had to learn about this kind of clinging. It is a long, arduous piece of work. Oh–the amount of books and articles I read on learning to “leave and cleave”. Fifty one years ago there was not a plethora of Christian materials available, and I literally had to search out helps in secular magazines. Back then, much of that information was not far from spiritual truths!
Tom and I attended two weddings last weekend in Kingsport. Hailey, our first granddaughter, delighted us with her wedding plans and preparations to Brandon. Their vows were given in a beautiful pastoral ceremony. The other joyous celebration was for the daughter of a dear friend. Beautiful brides. Grinning, doting grooms. Romantic music, dancing, laughter, embraces.
Tender, new vines everywhere. And will they learn to cling?
I took the hands of one of the couples and said, “I wish I could tell you the joys and rewards of marriage after fifty one years.” They smiled and agreed it would be great. But really they have no idea. . .
Not yet . . .
Because clinging is difficult. It takes a lifetime. Years. Learning when to cling–how to cling in the hard days when the winds blow, and it is humanly impossible to hold on to each other –sort of like clinging to our Lord. Sometimes we cling–or not– when we want to, when it is convenient, when I have a better idea. The marriage relationship is a beautiful picture of the relationship we are to have with our Creator.
And even though this Mandevilla vine clings strong now, very often there are occasional single new tendrils that have to be threaded and placed carefully around the strong center. Growth brings changes, new strands must cling.
. . . a life process.
Webster defines clinging as l) holding together; 2) adhering as if glued firmly; 3) holding tightly or tenaciously; 4) having a strong emotional dependence; 5) lingering near (I like this meaning–there’s another blog in lingering 🙂
Sounds like marriage to me. And our relationship to Christ. “Cause me to hear your loving kindness in the morning; for on you do I lean (cling–my word here) and in you do I trust. Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift my inner self to you.” Psalm 143: 8- Amplified
This Mandevilla analogy may be a bit elementary for you, but I love this picture in clinging. Always clinging. I have been reminded of that every single day as I have watched this vine bloom and climb.
Oh, Hailey, cling. Cling when it is easier to break lose and run, when it hurts, when the tears fall—cling to young dreams; hold firm to your commitment. Keep grasping for all things wonderful. (Of course, your Gram is a hopeless Polly-Anna!). It is in the clinging that you will realize the beauty of a relationship designed by our Creator for his children, and in that process discover how much He loves you.
Still clinging . . .
I wish you had the time to hear the blessings and joys of fifty one years of learning to cling. The newest one is mowing! If I had opted out at any one of the wind storms that blew on young tender threads of discontent or selfishness, I would have missed this fun new activity. I so delight in mowing with Tom. You should see us chasing each other over the grass! Just one benefit of a life time of clinging 🙂