And so we are. But I’m here to tell you that I didn’t have a clue. It was easy to say the words. Perhaps it was even easy for my friend Mark to sing them. But I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and neither did Kate, and every ensuing month and year has been a process of discovery, and recalibration, and readjustment, and recommitment. I meant the words of that song, and those marriage vows, as much as I’ve ever meant anything in my life. But I didn’t know myself. I had no idea how shockingly easily my marriage – and I – could fall apart.
And I’m reminded that some people – many people, alas – don’t make it. This is an occasion for sorrow every time, but it’s especially an occasion for sorrow when I see it happening to friends who are Christians. Nobody sets out to get divorced when they get married. Everybody goes into it assuming that it’s going to work. But there’s a particular weight of authority about Christian marriage, and perhaps a particular stigma about divorce. In any event, it’s a tragedy. It’s a matter for tears.
Here is a song by a Christian man who called himself Gene Eugene. He was the lead singer and songwriter for a band called Adam Again, a band that created and sold music within the narrow confines of the Christian music industry. It was very good music, and I don’t say that too often about songs associated with that particular industry, which tend to be simple, upbeat, and formulaic.
This song is none of those things. It’s a song about a Christian man going through a divorce. It’s a terrible song; terrible in the pain it elicits, terrible in its beauty. How does one communicate about something that is supposed to be life giving, life affirming, and that is instead a source of sorrow? How does one communicate that incongruity? All you can do is grope through sad, fantastic, inconceivable history; pull out strange but perfect metaphors, like the Cuyahoga River on fire. And then let the song slowly fall to pieces.
Gene Eugene died of a brain aneurism at the ripe old age of 39, six years after his divorce. He passed away fourteen years ago today. I miss him.