Love, Courtship and Marriage Marital Metaphor T Jennifer Woodley wo tall gums grow side by side in common soil. They stand majestically together in our front yard. Each tree, once just a sapling, is now whole and individual. It has grown according to its inner design, yet shaped by the other one at its side. If the extensions of the trees, the roots, and branches, grow too intertwined each tree would be unrecognisable as two unique individuals. Their own sense of identity would become distorted, the « 14 DOZ Magazine March 2018 boundary lines unclear. Their own being would become suffocated by the other, and their giftedness that offers beauty, contemplation, and refreshment to others would be choked by its partner. Each tree that was originally planned to complement the other would now be imploded by the other. Alternatively, if the extensions of the gums grow too far apart, they would abandon their contractual oath to love, nurture and encourage one another through the changing seasons of life. Independence and individuality are welcomed, but not at the expense of mutual dependence and support. Loneliness, despair, and bitterness creep in when the call to faithfulness towards the other is forfeited or forgotten. As the pair grow older, they understand the wisdom of extending outwards beyond themselves to be inclusive of others. They are designed to embrace more than themselves. They become hospitable hosts to many, and those they each welcome may be different from the other. All in all, they are accepting of the differences and offer enough space and freedom to allow the significant other to grow outward into who they are made to be. There is enough intertwining and sharing of each other that they continue to grow confident in trusting one another. They add value to the other, never competing for space or attention. They are whole, complete and strong in themselves, yet shaped by one another to grace the world around them. Reflection These gums towering together, are a metaphor for marriage. Consider your own marriage in the light of this story. In what ways do you add value to your marriage? How does your partner enhance your relationship? What if anything hinders the growth of your marriage and how might this be addressed? Thank God for the people that you both ‘host’ and the welcoming position that you offer them.