by Megan Philip
In the first three months of our marriage, our lives have been filled with three things: boxes, travel and letters. As we begin to unpack the boxes of wedding gifts and of our single lives, we’ve had the opportunity travel to celebrate other marriages this wedding season. And throughout it all: letters. Letters opened, read, and thank yous . Each has been a delightful reminder of so many wedding day memories. It seems appropriate that during this “letter season” I’ve had the chance to receive letters from an experienced and holy wife. The day before our wedding, a dear friend gifted me the book Letters to a Young Bride by Alice von Hildebrand. I have never met this woman personally, but her words have nourished me during these first months of marriage. This week I was struck with the following piece of advice:
“When you fell in love with (your husband), you saw his true face, his unique beauty: with the eyes of love you were granted a “Tabor vision” of (him). Trust this bright Tabor vision you’ve been given. Daily rekindle it in your heart and let it nurture your love. If you let it form the cornerstone of your faithfulness to (your spouse), your marriage will be rich, indeed.”
We often hear the phrase “Love is blind” and many newly married women are cautioned that the initial stages of married life are filled with countless adjustments, squabbles, and perhaps even disillusionments, as she sees her husband without the veil of love. It is certainly true that the process of “becoming a ‘we’” has not been without challenges, but, throughout it all, von Hlidebrand’s words have remained with me: “trust this bright Tabor vision you have been given.”
Love is not blind. Love actually gives us the capacity to see more clearly. Von Hildebrand goes on to say that this vision leads us to reverence. Or, as one friend told me about his own process of falling in love with his wife: “I knew I loved her when I kept thinking ‘Wow, God, you sure outdid yourself with this one!’” In our age of unrealistic images of beauty we see on Instagram and on The Bachelorette, I’m starting to appreciate the importance of this mindset.
St. John Paul II describes the vision of one spouse to another not as a “rose-colored” distortion of reality, but rather a privileged glimpse into the truest knowledge of another person, a reflection of God’s own vision of man and woman: In man’s eyes, the woman is a special synthesis of the beauty of all creation, and he too, similarly, in her eyes. He and von Hildebrand agree: love shows us who our spouse really is, not a distortion.
This year on the feast of The Transfiguration, the original Mt. Tabor vision, I thought of how later the apostles must have felt the need to “daily rekindle” in their minds and memories the vision they received.. How else could the apostle John look on Jesus on the cross and later write: We saw His glory! (John 1:14) In the newness of married life, with all its adjustments, compromises, and ridiculous miscommunications, I hear the echo of von Hildebrand’s words calling me to renew and recall those things I admire and value so much in my spouse. Recalling the “Tabor vision” helps center my heart when I am tempted to make a big deal over who is going to empty the dishwasher. We are not perfect people, but in reflecting back to each other the “true vision and unique beauty” that drew us to fall in love in the first place, we can gradually draw each other into the fullness of God’s perfect love.