I can't believe he did that.
What a jerk.
I don't claim to understand it.
These words came 'round the corner. Thoughts on the Edwards affair.
Usually I ignore these kinds of conversations. Like when Ted Haggard had his challenges. And now John Edwards. Famous people facing infamous situations. It seems sensationalistic to join the conversations.
But it just so happens I've been reading Robert Farrar Capon. (I do that. If I read one book by an author and I like it, I go on to read others, all in a row. So I'd been reading Supper of the Lamb; Health, Money and Love; Bed and Board.) Anyway, when I heard this conversation about Edwards, I was reminded of Capon's clarity and compassion on the issue of love affairs.
In Health, Money and Love, he tells a parable about a King and a Parlormaid. It's enough to irritate just about anybody who claims not to understand how a love affair could happen. But Capon says that a love affair has the power to place the participants squarely in the roles of Lover and Beloved. (I would add that this goes for any kind of love affair, between singles or marrieds.) And these roles of Lover and Beloved are particularly powerful because they stir our desire to experience the ultimate, eternal Lover/Beloved relationship with the Divine.
This is a radically different frame than that of the 'lurid affair' that the media loves to paint. It should give us pause.
Now someone will say that Edwards had the chance to play out the Lover/Beloved role in his own marriage. And of course that is true. To this, I want to share a Capon quote I've been saving, because it fascinates me to consider what degrades intimacy and what builds it.
Says Capon, People admit it's hard to pray. Yet they think it's easy to make love. What nonsense. Neither is worth much when it is only the outcropping of intermittent enthusiasm. Both need to be done without ceasing; and that puts a premium on the minor manifestations. Obviously the sexual act itself is central. But the circle that is drawn around it consists of a thousand small passes and light touches. What they lack in moment they more than make up for by sheer weight of numbers, and it is a poor bed that sees only the grand piece of business that really arrives. It is precisely the unconsummated nonsense that makes the main absurdity fruitful. Bed and Board, p.76
I love that phrase a thousand small passes and light touches. Who knows if Edwards had lost this with his wife and found it with someone new. Maybe that's how it went. Or maybe it was altogether different. In all this, I find myself quoting the conversation I overheard, I don't claim to understand it. Still, it doesn't hurt to try.
Swing at Laity Lodge photo, by L.L. Barkat.
Ann's Looking for Love
Erin's kind of related post: Made for More
Ted's book club post: Seedstone: Healing