Everybody else is a whirlwind of activity, bringing hot food to the table, filling glasses with water, and chatting with family they haven't seen since Christmas. But like Martha, I sit, feet tucked beneath me as I absorb the dance taking place across the room.
The two sit close together on the sofa, bodies close enough so there is only room for his arm to rest in the gap. Her arm rests tentatively atop his, a touching I'm sure both are shyly aware of even though neither acknowledges the other's skin against his own--they're not even at the holding hands stage, these two.
This chaste beginning to romance stirs up an emotional mental snapshot of a similar scene not so many years ago, husband and I sitting on cold tile floor, backs against the wall outside a college classroom, us holding but not holding hands for the first time.
My fingers tentatively traced his well-calloused ones, rough as the bark of a birch tree from repetitive contact with equally rough hay twine. A river of students flowed past without noticing time frozen at their feet, unfazed by the life changing event they didn't even know they had just witnessed.
I envy the couple before me, knowing the rush they're experiencing. Quickly, I avert my gaze, feeling like an intruder, a peeping tom in this very public room. Seeing them together, I understand why so many people step away from their marriages to have an affair.
To feel again that first blush of uncertain love requited...to feel completely desired by someone who, as of yet, lacks the flaws of one you've lived with for a decade or more.
I know it's really all a mixture of chemicals coursing throughout the body, but still, the cocktail is intoxicating...and lethal.
When I was a tween, a young couple taught me in Church Training each Sunday night. Then, one week, their chairs were empty. The husband had let those intoxicating emotions lead him into another woman's bed, and upon learning the truth, his wife left him. From one week to the next, that betrayal dissolved our class into a flux of temporary teachers and killed my desire to attend evening worship activities until college.
Even after I was married, I still vilified him as evil incarnate. Quietly hating him was easy. Accepting him as just another sinner who merely acted on emotions all of us have felt at one point in our lives--that has been more difficult because with that acceptance came insecurity that any solid marriage--my marriage--is always at some level of risk.
Although familiarity seeps in to any long-term relationship, dulling the senses over time, an affair isn't the only choice. A reawakening is not impossible within the marital bounds.
Years ago, I began praying that my desire would always be for my husband and that my husband would always desire me. It was and is an honest prayer spoken out of my weakness, knowing that without God controlling my every action, I could be my former teacher, inadvertently killing her young charges' desire to learn about God.
After fourteen years together, ten bound by the cords of marriage, God continues to answer that prayer. I still get that rush I used to feel each time my husband walks through a door, still get the Jell-O legs when he kisses me at the end of the work day, still warm at the simple touch of his hand in mine.
May I always say, "I am my beloved's, and he is mine." (Song of Solomon 6:3).