Monet and the Marriage of East and West

Monet and the Marriage of East and West August 11, 2015


Someone asked me this morning how long my wife Mariko and I have been married. I responded, “Feels like yesterday to me, feels like 100 to Mariko, but it’s more like 25.” Today is our 25th wedding anniversary. I am thankful to my wife for her faithful love over all the years. One of the most precious qualities of our marriage is the shared value we cherish for a global theology of culture that reflects the multifaceted, diverse beauty and glory of Christ and his kingdom around the world.

This week we visited the Art Institute of Chicago, which is where we got engaged many years ago. At that time, we purchased a copy of Monet’s Japanese Bridge, which was located in his garden at Giverny. The picture hangs in our living room. We recall the narration that accompanied the Monet exhibit that the museum featured at that time. A series of paintings of the bridge was the last in the special collection. The narrator said that Monet envisioned his art as a kind of bridge between East and West. The narrator’s words spoke to us, and we have seen our marriage in like manner (though not a reunion of the Axis powers—Germany and Japan, as one of my seminary professors jokingly remarked at the news of our wedding announcement many years ago). We displayed the print at our wedding, as my sister sang “In Christ, There Is No East or West.”

One of the best examples in our lives of this global bridge-building endeavor between East and West is my forthcoming work with Patheos titled Evangelical Zen: A Christian’s Spiritual Travels with a Buddhist Friend. The book is due out shortly. My wife loves this book, as it chronicles key aspects of our journey in Japan. It also bears witness to a dear friendship with the late Abbot Kyogen Carlson, a Zen Buddhist Priest, who was (and is still) one of my dearest friends and dialogue partners in bridging the East and West in Portland, Oregon and beyond.

25th Wedding AnniversaryOn my wedding anniversary, I wish all of you the best. I also hope you find others with whom to share life, and who cherish deep and abiding values that bring people together rather than tear them and society apart.

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