While watching Oprah's interview with Julia Roberts, I could not help but pick up on the term "devotion." It was in the context of marriage.
Oprah asked Julia about her relationship to her husband. She then focused on their dealings with one another, particularly in regard to Julia serving her husband, being attentive to him, and so forth. Of course, this is a hot topic to kindle a feminist reaction. What would modern-woman Julia respond?
I was so pleasantly surprised to hear Julia say that she found it rewarding to be near her husband and care for her husband, being home with him so that they could spend time together. In her response to Oprah, Julia used the word "devotion." She said that she found that devotion in loving her husband was nourishing.
How ingenious to consider devotion as the answer to Oprah's question, rather than slavery or servanthood or bowing down to. It is devotion for Julia. She finds it fulfilling. Then Julia went on specifically to relate gestures of devotion expressed toward her husband.
I thought back to all the men in Julia's life and her past, fast-paced lifestyle. It included a lot of experimentation. However, it appears now that for marriage, Julia has concluded that the old-fashioned profile is best.
When there is genuine love in a marriage, devotion comes easily and happily. It is not demeaning for a spouse to serve the other. It is caring.
My wife grew up in a little village in Nova Scotia, just an hour west of Halifax. Her family lived out in the country. Her father owned the lumber mill and village store. Her mother reared three children in the homestead way down the lane. Of course, one of the centerpieces in this Norman Rockwell painting was the cup of tea. Tea, tea, tea, and still another cup of Canadian tea.
Naturally, there can be none better than Canadian tea, for those cloth bags each hold two full cups of rich blend tea! So I have been most fortunate in marrying a Canadian who already knew the value of the Canadian tea bag. Therefore, through our marriage I have been served many, many cups of delicious, steaming tea -- either from the proverbial mug or, when in the English mode, the bone china English teacup with saucer.
I don't think my wife has ever thought of herself as a slave to me -- nor even a servant to me. In fact, I know she hasn't. With that, I know she has never considered it demeaning to serve me a cup of hot tea -- or dinner or breakfast or a newly baked muffin spread with butter.
You see, in our home we learned long ago that serving is a gift. Being devoted to another is a pleasure. Jesus told His own that they were at their kingdom height when they were washing another's feet -- serving, devoting their energies to helping and lifting another's burden. Therefore, though an egocentric world can't get hold of the concept, being devoted to another so as to cater to that one's needs is a privilege.
My wife and I know that as she serves me the cup of tea, I will no doubt be the one at the close to wash the cup and saucer, for I often "do the dishes." My father did, too. In fact, my father told me as a child that work around the house had no gender tag attached to it. He said that work was work and any gender could do it. Therefore, when it comes to pouring the tea, serving the tea, and washing the teacup, both my wife and I are up to it.
Practically speaking, in most cases in our home, it is my wife who carefully brews the tea, pours it, and then serves it, with a smile. Finally, it is I who puts the teacups and saucers in the hot sudsy water for washing. No problem.
It's all in devotion. Very nice. Very helpful. And always a pleasure.
- J. Grant Swank, Jr.