One of the things I love most about Constantino are the noises he makes. There’s this little grunt he makes when he’s angry or frustrated about something, like what I imagine comes from a burrowing hedgehog. Then there’s the kind of mewing noise when he wants something he can’t have (like when I make tzatziki for dinner and he wants to eat it right away). And then there are the sighs. He’s a master of long, deep sighs, and, like the Eskimo words for snow, there are a hundred different shades of meaning. To me, they’re little sounds of music.
Part of relationship is simply the choice to go deep with one person. It’s a form of intimacy, ferreting out every little detail about another. In one sense, that person could be almost anyone. If we believe God has created us all in His image, then we can discover beautiful divinity in anyone with whom we are willing to sit and gradually peel back the layers. But how much more meaningful is that process when it’s with someone we love? I’m glad Constantino and I met as adults, and that we only dated for a year before becoming engaged. I learned enough about him to know that I wanted to spend my life with him, but there are still infinite, paper-thin layers for us to peel back throughout the coming years.
Contemporary culture is not accustomed to going deep. It’s counter to our social-media existence, where abundance of relationship often supplants intimacy with a few. Most of us have become adept at casting a relationship net that is broad and shallow, and I’m no exception. If I were to get coffee one-on-one with every single Facebook friend, it would take me nearly three years. Quantity is not a bad thing in itself. Part of building a multifaceted worldview involves meeting and dialoguing with a diverse swath of humanity. The more people we meet, the more we invite differing opinions and experiences to shape our views. But we can never allow breadth to suffice for depth.
I like to think of Constantino like a complex piece of art, like one of those epic historical paintings that dominates an entire wall in a museum. There are moments when I take a broad view of him, when I see all of him and think I understand him. Then I’ll get a glimpse of something in the corner, something I hadn’t seen before, and I’ll get really close. That little detail will surprise me, and I’ll understand him—the entire painting—a little bit better. But I’m not merely an observer. A better analogy would be two paintings taking in each other. When I get close to see the detail in Constantino, I can’t help but reveal the details in myself as well.
What I love about going deep with Constantino is how reflective it is of my relationship with Jesus. It’s easy and comfortable to take a broad view, to simplify my understanding of him to a children’s Bible version. But Jesus isn’t a finger painting. When I step close—uncomfortably close—he reveals details about his nature that I could never see from a distance. And when I’m that close to him, I can’t help but reveal those vulnerable, intimate parts of myself as well. Jesus knows those details; he knows all my little sounds.
I imagine a day, years down the line, when Constantino and I communicate exclusively in grunts, mews, and sighs. But I know we’ll never reach that level of telepathy, and I’m glad for it. That would mean that we had discovered every detail about each other, had figured out every thought. Essential to a thriving relationship is discovery, and I hope to find my husband time and again over a lifetime.
David Khalaf is a fiction writer living in Portland.
Original image public domain by way of Pixabay.
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