Poetry has been defined as a language “that says more and says it more intensely than ordinary language.” What is interesting though, is to consider how poetry is also one of the most constrained forms of language, because of the many rules and forms it follows.
Yet within these rules and restrictions the poet is pushed to mine their thoughts for that perfect word or phrase to create something special.
What can be interpreted as restrictive instead becomes the catalyst for saying something special.
In marriage – or relationships – as in poetry each person’s personality represents its own form that brings its own ideas and shapes to a marriage.
While deployed, we find those limitations and forms increase. Communication is limited to specific blocks of time and touch is removed. The restrictions seemingly place a boundary on the ability for relationships to flourish and grow. But maybe that isn’t the case. Maybe in marriage, as in poetry, the form not only creates its own set of restraints but also creates opportunities for something special.
Wendell Barry writes that form asks “for patience, forbearance, inspiration – the gifts and graces of time, circumstance and faith. They are, perhaps, the true occasions of the poem: occasions for surpassing what we know or have reason to expect. They are points of growth, like the axils of leaves.”
The restraints we experience during a deployment have the potential to be the soil from which we can grow in patience and to experience true gratitude for the grace that is time together.
Continuing this thought, Barry goes on to write that “marriage too is an attempt to rhyme, to bring two different lives – within the one life of their troth and household.”
The two lives stray apart necessarily, and by consent come together again: to “feel together” to “be of the same mind.” The necessity of rhyme creates a pause, and a separation that can baffle us. So too can a deployment. It confronts us with the reality of life’s difficulty and yet in certain moments we can experience a coming together. The loneliness breaks, a word is found and there is a sweet reunion and a sense that we are closer than ever before. The sweetness of connection when thousands of miles apart, the blessedness of coming home to Family again. All of these experiences are made possible by the very restraints placed on us today.
The restraints of a deployment, as the forms in poetry, create a space where our relationship can say more and say it more intensely than any ordinary relationship could speak. Let us receive these forms as both hardship and grace, knowing that it may be the thing that brings us closer together.