Young Love

Chagall-Song-of-Songs

“Song of Songs,” Marc Chagall

Devotional for Thursday, April 16

Song of Solomon 2:8-15 (NRSV)

The voice of my beloved!

Look, he comes,
leaping upon the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Look, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows,
looking through the lattice.

My beloved speaks and says to me:

“Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.

“The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away.

“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
in the covert of the cliff,
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.

“Catch us the foxes,
the little foxes,
that ruin the vineyards—
for our vineyards are in blossom.”

This COVID-19 mess gives me particular concern for young adults. Even if they don’t catch the virus, there simply is so much disruption going on in their lives right now.

The young adults of our world came to mind as I meditated on the Song of Solomon passage above, a part of the church’s daily readings. The exuberance of young love shines through, encouraged by the blooming spring.

People my age think of people under 25 as “kids,” but at the same time, we can certainly sympathize. In my mind, it was just yesterday I was feeling like the young man in Song of Solomon, suffering from an almost irrational desire to be with the one I had identified as perfect for me.

Thirty-plus years of marriage do lead to a settled familiarity, but what young people might consider a negative is in fact a positive. I am grateful I am stuck at home with Connie Walters Griffin, as I realize not all are blessed similarly. Our familiarity is part of a deep bond we could not have imagined three decades ago.

And yes, exuberant love continues to well up in the heart. Little things, like when she’s in the kitchen humming and suddenly says out loud, “Alexa, play Frank Sinatra,” are the triggers now. “Summer Wind” is a little before our time, released the same year we were born, but we grew into our appreciation of such music together. Bonds like that take time.

Young people, I want you to one day have your own deeply bonded relationships, and I am sorry that so many of your lives have been put on pause. I know that at your age, weeks can easily seem like months. To have lifelong relationships, you need those starting points you’ve been denied.

It pains me that so many of you lost your proms, your post-graduation dates, or your first walk across campus hand-in-hand with someone—those moments where you flirt with adult commitments. I am a pastor, so of course I also pray that when you have such experiences, they will occur within the boundaries you learned from your parents and in church. But I so want you to have them.

Once this virus is well behind us, I hope churches will take special measures to create spaces for young people to gather and mingle, celebrating what the Bible says they are supposed to feel. After all, that hot spark of young love is a reflection of what God feels for us, and what we should feel for God.

Where we have gyms, there should be dances. Where we have kitchens and tables, there should be special meals. Solomon’s flowers, figs and vines would make wonderful decorations, regardless of the season.

Lord, in whatever stage of life we might find ourselves, grant us the patience we need to come through this time of isolation. Amen.

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