Monday, May 25, 2015

The Real Thing

This last Sunday (5/24) I officiated Rachel and Matt's wedding ceremony at Magnolia Terrace in Frisco, Texas. Here are the words I shared with them and their guests:

I ask every couple why they want to marry and why now. I love Rachel answer, "He has taught me what real love is, and how a man is supposed to treat a woman. With him I feel our family is complete."

Now, when I asked Rachel what she meant when she said Matt had taught her what real love is, she couldn't adequately express it. She knew it to be true, but she could not explain it in words.

This exchange with Rachel about identifying the real thing, reminded me of a fascinating mystery from Jewish literary history. For more than 1500 years the 3rd most important book to Jews the world over was the Jerusalem Talmud. It was carefully copied generation after generation. At some time in the Middle Ages, one of its volumes disappeared, never to be seen again. Then a little more than 100 years ago a man appeared in Europe, claiming he had found a long lost manuscript of the volume, and he begin publishing it part after part.

The language of the book read so well, and felt so authentic that some rabbis believed it to be real. Many others, though, suspected it was a forgery. Something felt not right. Much like Rachel, they knew what they knew. They just couldn't put their fingers on it.

One rabbi was able to finally put the issue to rest. The Talmud has numerous repetitions throughout its many pages. So the fact that this lost volume had such repetitions was no surprise. However, this great rabbi pointed out, this lost volume not only had repetitions. It had no original material. There was nothing new here. Clearly, the publisher had used material from the other volumes, and stitched it all together. With nothing unique to this volume, it could only be a fake.

I believe this story can help us understand what Rachel means. Love CAN be confusing. We go through life looking for our one true love, and sometimes we really think we have found it, only to be disappointed. So how do we know that what we have is the real thing? We know it is real when we find ourselves feeling a type of love that is unique, a first, an original.

Interestingly, this answer is exactly what Matt said, when I asked him why he wants to marry Rachel: "For the first time in my life I have found another person I could not live without. A person that I want to spend every waking moment with. The first person I would like to have a family with."

Real love may defy words; it may elude literal description. However, it can be spotted deep in the heart, in a mysterious way, by the fact that it is truly unique. It is like no other love you have felt before. You simply cannot find a parallel to it. It can't be faked. It can't be forged. Its truth unmistakably shines through. That's when you know that what you've got is the real thing.

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