Today marks our 42nd wedding anniversary, Donya and me. Forty-two years of marriage. Forty…two!
My good friend and coworker Keith Craft, when teaching someone about something that is difficult to accomplish, likes to say, “It sounds easy if you say it real fast.”
I don’t know if you can say 42 years of marriage fast enough to make it sound “easy.”
Did you know that the number 42 is associated with suffering or long-suffering, a duration of time waiting for something to happen or get better?
According to thephoenixenigma.com…
The number 42 is always associated with suffering and the duration of time the suffering will last.
In the Bible, 42 also represents the kinetic struggle between good and evil.
According to R. Allendy, this number represents “the antagonism in natural cycles. Here, the Spirit opposed to the matter, the good opposed to the evil, continue their fight in the oscillations of the world and result in the Karma – 4+2 = 6. It is the Karma or the Providence in the evolution – 42 = 6×7”.
J. Boehme calls this number “the Sky, place of the divine desire”.
In Japan, the 42 is a sign meaning misfortune because it is pronounced SHI-RI, that is homonymous with death.
Its factors are six and seven (6×7=42), and this shows a connection between man and the Spirit of God, and between Christ and Antichrist. Being a multiple of seven, it might be supposed that it would be connected with spiritual perfection. But it is the product of six times seven. Six, therefore, is the number of Man, and of man’s opposition to God, forty-two becomes significant of the working out of man’s opposition to God.
See? You cannot make it sound easy no matter how fast you say it.
42, The Texas Dominoes Game
I grew up on 42. My Mom’s side of the family loves to play this dominoes game whenever we get together. I learned how to play it as a kid and impatiently waited my time to join the adults. 42 is a game of suits and sets. It is a game of strategy and luck, though the better you understand the game, the better you are at “reading” everyone else’s “hand,” the less luck you need.
My grandfather and father were the best among us at the game. You always wanted one of them for a partner and never wanted them to partner up together.
My grandmother, whom I accidentally named Granky when I was first learning to talk (and the name fit her fine and became what most everyone called her from then on), held her dominoes in some weird sideways fashion in her hands. She would lay them face down, shuffle them the way she wanted, and pick them up again, four in one hand and three in the other.
Granky did not play conservatively. The minimum bid is 30 but if you don’t think you can make thirty points on the hand, you can pass. I never once saw her pass. Her famous line was, “I can make 30 on any hand.”
In 42, you play the hand that is dealt you and the one dealt your partner. You do not, however, know what hand your partner was dealt. After a few plays, if you are attentive and astute, you may have a good idea or even know precisely what dominoes your partner holds. But at the beginning, you do not.
That is a microcosm of life and an illustration of marriage. Together, you are dealt a hand but each holds his or her own hand individually. You have to pay attention in order to understand what your partner is holding. The best way in 42 to do that is to watch what they play, what dominoes they discard, and what suits they are unable to follow.
Same with marriage. You have to pay attention. You have to be aware of the signs.
I have not always been the most attentive. Fortunately, I was dealt a “very lucky hand indeed,” to quote Jack from the movie Titanic. Unlike Jack, I did not perish in the dark, frigid waters when my ship sank. I had a partner who understood the hand I was dealt and overlooked the foolish way I played it at times. She floated me until a rescue boat came along.
A very lucky hand, indeed.
42 and The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: the Answer to Everything
In this sci-fi tale, author Douglas Adams states that 42 “is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.” Adams later admitted it was meant as a joke. Geeks, astrologers, scientists, scholars, and theologians, however, have placed real significance on the number for various reasons, as we have already seen.
In the book Alice in Wonderland, the Queen reads from the rule book: “Rule 42 clearly states that all persons more than a mile high must leave the courtroom.”
In the TV series Lost, the number 42 is the last in an important sequence of numbers and pops up throughout the story.
In the series Supernatural, the door labeled 42 leads to the “Gate of Heaven.”
I always liked the title, The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide the the Galaxy. I have often felt like a hitch-hiker with a pretty good idea of where I want to get to and no clear way to get there. I have bummed rides from preachers, teachers, businessmen, and philosophers. They took me this way and that. Whichever way I went, I was never alone. I have had my fellow hitch-hiker with me. Forty-two years and counting.
Jesus has been there all along the way, as well, with His patience, kindness, and immutable, unconditional love. Think about that word a minute. Unconditional. Know this, only He is capable of such. We emulate it to the best degree we can. But there are always conditions where we are concerned.
And in the forty-second year…
Forty-two years ago today, two starry-eyed teens prepared to make vows to one another. She would keep all of hers without fail and that would be no small task because she made them to a kid who, for all the potential others said he had, would fail famously and spectacularly, not once or twice, but three times at least. (Those were just the big ones, you know.)
Yet, here we are on the other side of pain and loss, of battles and bruises, of starting over and over and over again. Here we are, on the other side of dreams dashed and hopes crashed on the unflinching rocks of circumstance. Here we are, bloodied but unbeaten. We have been knocked to our knees by random disease, assaulted by premature death, pummeled by the Devil, and plucked like chickens, left running exposed and afraid for our lives – or at least the life we were trying to build.
Ours is a story I intend to tell in detail in my memoir, which I plan to release next year, God willing and too many creeks don’t rise.
I say “God willing” because I have learned this if nothing else: “Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” (Proverbs 27:1, KJV)
I have always loved the haunting tune of the song “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. I especially love the fourth verse:
Well people I’ve been here before
I know this room and I’ve walked this floor
You see I used to live alone before I knew ya
And I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
But listen love, love is not some kind of victory march, no
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Love is not a victory march. It is a burden. Don’t you see that? God so loved the world that he did what? On the Cross, Jesus bore the burden of love. Do you not feel that with your spouse, your kids, your parents? The burden of responsibility. The burden of their well-being. The burden of their dreams and hopes. The burden of love.
I know you may become indignant and say, “No! Love is a blessing.”
Of course it is. I never said different and I know how I am blessed beyond measure. But even blessings are burdens. Did not Jesus say, “To whom much is given, much is required?”
Jesus did not say we would be burden-free, even if we follow him in faith. He said, “My burden is light and my yoke is easy.”
We do not mark 42 years of marriage today; we celebrate it. Not like a Super Bowl winner or a lottery winner, though I do feel like a champion of love and like the luckiest man alive and all that. We celebrate it as survivors. We have weathered every storm, faced down every enemy, owned every failure, bounced back from every mistake, cashed every check, celebrated every birthday of the three girls we are beyond blessed to call ours, and we have come to this place.
Forty-two generations passed between Abraham and Christ. Forty-two generations of wilderness wanderings, wars, discouragement, and disappointment. Forty-two generations of prophets prophesying and people wondering, “How long, though? When will our Redeemer come?”
Forty-two generations and then He came and, except for a handful of fishermen and a few social outcasts, they missed it entirely. They misunderstood every prophecy. They rejected the message of the gospel. They called Christ an imposter and crucified Him as a criminal. What a shame!
Let me not, then, miss this moment. Let me not fail to recognize its meaning, its message.
It may have been cold a time or two. It may have been thoroughly broken. But it is still my Hallelujah!
Happy anniversary to the one.