Our thanks to Brendan Armitage for offering this week’s devotion.
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.~~1 John 5:3
He wrote to her, about her, of her every day of his life. So great was his love for her that he managed to keep fresh what is described by social scientists as “The Neurobiological Progression of Love” (in which love moves on from a passionate attraction of a blooming romance to the deeper calmer attachment of longtime love).
Vladimir’s act of writing daily love letters to his beloved Vera helped to sustain the excitement and passion of that long-term relationship, countering what Stendahl ( aka the French writer Marie Henri Beyle) called “the crystallization that leads to disenchantment”.
Granted, the Vladimir described here…his last name was Nabokov, the Russian writer of the great novel Lolita. But the artistry with which Nabokov crafted his stories wasn’t the point. As Carole Dweck, the Stanford psychologist teaches, “…it is the effort that should be applauded rather than the result. You can always improve your effort, while the result of that effort may vary.”
What kept Vladimir Nabokov’s love so fresh for his wife Vera was not the unusual depth of his love or the singularity of his gifts as a writer. It was that he wrote to her every day. He practiced being in love. Every day. Vladimir loved Vera.
These days, lots of people are baking bread. (I’m not sure which is harder to find at Stauffer’s, toilet paper or AP flour?) A recent convert to bread making told me she also is a convert to making sourdough bread, which relies on wild yeast from a mother starter, a starter which must also be fed daily with fresh flour and fresh water. She feeds that starter everyday. She bakes every day. She and her family are eating a lot of very good bread every day.
If it’s the daily practice of feeding a jar of yeast or feeding your love for that special someone, it’s still a good daily practice. It’s still the effort that consecrates the activity, rather than the result. Prayer. Meditation. Mindfulness. All three are words for the practice (hopefully daily) of bringing ourselves into a communication with what is important and vital. We Christians understand God to be vital in our lives. Prayer is a way to practice thinking “I love God”. That in itself is enough. Whether you find yourself daydreaming out the window on a Springside afternoon or fervently praying for a friend who just revealed that they “have coronavirus, but it’s not that bad”, remember that God doesn’t require that you be good at communication with Him. You just have to try (the more often the better). He’ll do the rest.
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