Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Deep in Aslan's Country -- the Land of Love

This is a love story. It's not a boy-meets-girl love story. But when you have come to the end, you will know you have read a love story. 
We are now deep in Aslan's country -- the
Land of Love

The story starts with a group of about 70 mostly young and a few older men and women in the western United States. A few in the group are married, but most are single. A few are locals, but most come from other states and some from other nations. The group gets together most Monday afternoons, and at other random times. 

The group has a leader, an extraordinary young woman whose email tagline is "love always wins." This is not just a tagline for her; it is how she lives her life, and how she leads. 

Because of her skill, she in just a few weeks facilitated a high level of trust among the members of the group. The men and women in the group began sharing stories about their lives; their hopes, defeats, fears and joys. When brought out into the open, the worst disasters of life were covered with warm hugs, tender love and forgiveness heaped high around the broken-hearted. 

The love in the group quickly shot past even the high levels of love found in most church families. It continues to grow. The group has talked much and openly about boundaries, what it means to love, defining the relationship, bravely communicating, unconditional love, love without agenda, great male friendships, honor, the joy and majesty of sex -- and how in the real, non-media world, love is not always connected with sex. 

It is possible that a few romances may come out of this group; and if so, that would be wonderful, but what is over-the-top amazing is how many loving friendship relationships there are. Men aren't afraid to be like loving brothers or fathers to the women. The women trust and are affectionate with the men. 

Nearly every adult on the planet has a sex drive, but in this group, sex is subordinated to the right time in the right committed relationship. It has been foretold that going forward there will be no divorces in the marriages of this group. 

February was love month in this group. Mid-month, the men planned a love celebration for the women -- a kind of Valentine's Day party. It was the vision of a man on the group's leadership team; a man with a great heart to love and honor the women around him. 

The men planned for weeks in secret. They planned food, activities, decorations, and even trained together to make everything go well. 

On the night of the celebration, the men did everything.  The multi-course, home-cooked meal was prepared, the decorations hung, the tables carefully set, and name cards set out. The men dressed with coats, ties, and shined shoes with great expectation. 

The women arrived in their beautiful attire, lovely faces shining with anticipation and hope that this would be as sweet as they had started to believe might be possible. Each woman was announced like nobility arriving at a ball, and escorted to their tables. Hors d'oeuvres were offered and accepted. 

Then duos of men invited individual women to accompany them to large mirrors standing around the walls of the room. There the men spoke words of love, encouragement, and affirmation over the women who had become their friends and sisters. They looked into each woman's heart, saw the gold and called it for what it was. They spoke of hope and life and love. 

After dinner, a poet among them read his verse aloud. The few married men brought out love letters and read them to their wives in front of the group. Tears mixed with affirmations and laughter as the loving words rolled over the wives and through the group. 

At the end, the men brought out clean basins, towels, and pitchers of warm water for each woman.  On their knees they washed the feet of the women while speaking words of love and affirmation. 

How did the women respond? This note is from one of the women who posted on the group's FaceBook page (used with permission): 
I have NEVER felt so much honor from men in my whole entire life. And besides my dad and brothers, I've never felt love from men like that either. Never, ever, ever. I suppose that's why it was so difficult for me to receive it at first. But wow. Thank you so much to all of you men. This was seriously one of the BEST nights of my life. I will NEVER EVER forget it. This is one of those nights that I'll tell my children about; and even my grandchildren. I'll let them know how real men honor women, and show them that this is the type of example to follow. 
Tonight, I can honestly say that you men made my heart come alive in a way that it's never come alive before. I feel so valued. 

This is a true story. I know because I was there, and a part of it all. It was easily one of the best evenings of my life. I have not included names or places, although those of you who know me can guess pretty easily. 

What made this love celebration possible? Certainly, good leadership was critically important. Willing men was huge. Planning and training helped quite a bit. But really, it was Jesus. He did it. He taught us well and paid the price so that we could be so free to love like this. We took a risk and followed His example like never before in our lives. 

Recently I was watching as one of the men in our group walked up and sat down beside one of our women. He stretched his arm around her shoulders, and she put her head on his shoulder for several minutes. There is no romantic connection between these two. They just love each other like a close-knit brother and sister.  I see scenes like this often in our community of friends.

We are now deep into Aslan's country -- the land of love. The walls keep coming down, and it just keeps getting sweeter than I ever thought possible.

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