Snippets of my day…

*Phone call from a number I didn’t recognize around 2:30 in the afternoon:*

Me: Hello?

Lady: (words incredibly slurred, she was definitely intoxicated) Hi… Peggy. It’s Miissssssss Vio–t.

Me: Um, I’m sorry who are you looking for?

Lady: Pegggggyyyyy!

Me: I think you’ve got the wrong number.

Lady: I don’t got the wrong number. I know what number I dialed! (She hangs up)

*Later in the day, two older women in identical leopard printed shirts are walking in front of me having the following conversation:*

Lady 1: I’ve never been to church in my entire life, and I don’t like people who go to church.

Lady 2: I hear ya. I don’t get crazy church-goers.

*******

And so it seemed to the drunk woman, that I had no clue what I was talking about when it came to my own phone number, even though I was sober. To the leopard clad ladies, I was nothing but an insane church-goer they could never understand. Moments like these remind me that I am not at home in this world. You and I simply don’t belong here. In his book The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes that we are never made to feel too comfortable in this world so we always remember that we belong elsewhere, so our souls and spirits long to reach heaven.

So the question arises, where does the soul find rest on this earth? I found my answer to the question in Psalm 84 that speaks about the joys of being in the tabernacle: “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.”

The church is often referred to as a little piece of heaven on earth. It’s also a little bit of home on earth. For there the soul finds comfort and rest in the House of the Lord. There the soul finds company and has communion with others who seek the same thing. There is a reason so many throughout the ages, believers and non-believers alike, have sought sanctuary in the church.

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The Taming of the Shrew stands out as one of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies. Although just how funny it really is remains a matter of opinion. To briefly summarize the play, a rich Italian gentleman has two daughters, Katherina (Kate) and Bianca. Bianca is sweet and loved and chased by many suitors but her older sister Kate is entirely shrewish. No man wants to come near her because if she does not blow out his eardrums out with her shouting she will literally beat him. 

As always there has to be some sort of complication. Bianca is not allowed to get married until her older sister is first married, and this stipulation is what spurs the action of the play. One of Bianca’s suitors, Hortensio, convinces his friend Petruchio that Kate is the wife for him because she is beautiful and her dowry is large. Petruchio enters the play as the would-be hero who will capture Kate’s heart and release Bianca. Except he acts far more like a villain than a hero. He is not intent on capturing Kate’s heart but on breaking her will, on taming her (hence the title.) By the very end of the play, Kate and Petruchio are married and Kate has been tamed for lack of a better description. The unruly Katharina seems to have finally met her match. Critics world over have tried to rescue the play from its apparent chauvinistic traits but that is not my concern here.

First I offer the following passage from the second Act of the play in which Kate and Petruchio meet and he informs her that she will be his wife whether she likes it or not. After much witty banter and the exchange of some harsh words, the ever elusive Katherina seems to have finally been trapped as her interaction with Petruchio comes to a close and her father reenters the scene. He ends their interaction in the following manner:

“And therefore, setting all this chat aside,
Thus in plain terms: your father hath consented
That you shall be my wife; your dowry ‘greed on;
And, Will you, nill you, I will marry you.
Now, Kate, I am a husband for your turn;
For, by this light, whereby I see thy beauty,
Thy beauty, that doth make me like thee well,
Thou must be married to no man but me;
For I am he am born to tame you Kate,
And bring you from a wild Kate to a Kate
Conformable as other household Kates.
Here comes your father: never make denial;
I must and will have Katharina to my wife.”

Petruchio does just as he promises. The wild Kate becomes a domesticated Kate, simply concerned with pleasing her husband and attending to his needs. The world outside Petruchio and away from him no longer exists. And as Kate becomes a “Kate conformable as other household Kates” her spirit and her fire fizzles away. She is simply a changed woman.

Strangely enough, this play and particularly that excerpt bring to mind the following passage from the Bible. “There is difference [also] between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please [her] husband” (1 Corinthians 7:34).

And so the Bible presents us with the image of the unmarried or single woman as a free spirit not bound to the cares of this world but entirely focused on the world above. Her life is one focused on entirely on God, she is not bound to anything or anyone. Her will is free, and if she so chooses, she can will her entire being to revolve around her connection with God.

Now Kate is far from the best example of a single woman’s cares focusing on God, but the connection is there. Kate’s life did not revolve around anything of this world or its cares until Petruchio came along and her focus had to alter.

This is not an anti-marriage post by any means though. After all, the church regards a marriage as the formation of a new church within the home. It is one of the paths that lead to salvation. After all, the beauty of a Christian marriage is unparalleled. This is a post meant to extol the beauty of being single and living life on your own. There is something to be said for having your free time to while away on God and His glory.

Many run around in a panic, thinking that singledom is a disease of sorts that must be cured as fast as possible when in actuality it is a blessing meant to be cherished. Take the time you have on your own to grow in His wisdom and in His glory. To expand your capacity for love and humility. To grow into His likeness with every passing day. The time is too short and it will slip by before you realize it.

P.S. – The same thing goes for men too. See 1 Corinthians 7:32-33.