A Blessing for Divorce

Meg RileyOn this Valentine's Day, I want to lift up all of the divorces that are based in love and integrity, and honor them—honor the separations themselves, and the people walking away from marriages and unions, as blessed by God.

Ministers often name marriages and unions as blessed by God, but who is there to honor separation and divorce? No gatherings of friends and family come together in the church to mark that transition. And yet, we know that divorces are plentiful. If they are not named as a place of blessing, how are people to feel whole as they move on with their lives?

It's as if, in the world of relationships, churches perform celebrations of birth but not celebrations of death. And yet death, as we know, is a part of life, just as separation is a part of union. While not all unions end in divorce (thank God!), those that do are in need of marking and care.

And so, on this Valentine's Day, I want to take a moment to bless those who, as a result of on-going revelation, know that their spiritual journey requires them to move on from someone they loved.

No one chooses divorce or separation joyfully. The grief of great love lost, or of a union that denied one's true needs from the start—either of these situations shakes people to their foundations.

No one chooses divorce or separation lightly. Where children are involved, no parent wants to do anything but protect the tiny hearts that enter the world through particular unions. No one would choose to dislocate their children's place of identity and belonging, who is not honoring a need which is even greater.

I think of one woman I know who learned after being faithfully married for thirty-five years that her husband is gay. There was deep grief for both of them, about years wasted with lies and secrets. And, though they loved each other dearly, there was knowledge that neither of them could grow until they separated. Where is the blessing for their honor, for their fidelity to truth and to love, that accompanied that decision?

I think of a woman who left her abusive partner, taking their child and leaving at night, shaking and afraid, terrified of being found before she reached safety. Where is the blessing for her courage, for the commitment to her own and her child's well being, for the imagination that knew there was a better life elsewhere?

Much more commonly, I reflect on all of the couples who were stagnant, who couldn't budge with therapy or prayer or faking it, who tried for days and months and years and eventually decided life should hold more joy, Where is the blessing for their commitment to joy, to loving touch, to the knowledge that they deserve life-giving partnership, or a single life filled with laughter and joy and friends?

Don't get me wrong: I believe that marriages or partnerships that endure till death do us part are one of life's very greatest blessings, and would wish for every person to have the kind of joy that such long term, steady companionship and care can bring. But we're not cookie cutter people. Our lives evolve differently. Enduring partnership is not the only form that blessing can take, any more than slender blond women are the only people that God created on this earth.

So, here is a Valentine's Day Blessing for the divorced or separated:

For all who left a relationship, in order to save your heart, may your own heartbeat be your blessing. Its rhythm, its particular kinships, its unique rhythm. May you know your own heart as God's blessing.

For all who had to set boundaries in order to keep your mind intact, may your own mind be your blessing. Its integrity, its edginess, its willingness to wonder and to know. May you know your own mind as God's blessing.

For all who had to let go in order to protect your body, your safety, those you love, may your body be your blessing. Its strength, its beauty, its imperfect humanity. May you know your own body as blessing.

For all who had to walk away, in order to save your spirit, may your own spirit be your blessing. Its spaciousness, breath, its deep and abiding wisdom. May you know your own spirit as blessing.

Heart, mind, body, spirit. May you know your own wholeness, reconstituting yourself as you separate from this relationship, walking away in love and in blessing. May you walk toward more love, knowing that you walk squarely in God's sight and with God's blessing.