Spiritual Journey as Romance
written by Rev Gary Heard

A teaching colleague recently reported her holiday experience on the Queens Birthday weekend: her boyfriend flew in from interstate and whisked her away to Hamilton Island. In that idyllic setting, over a candlelit dinner, he proposed. It was the ideal of many students, who cooed audibly. Isn’t romance wonderful?

In the focus on theology and bible study, it is easy to abandon any notion of romance as we consider our relationship with God. Yet when Israel had been exiled and divorced by God, as reported in Hosea 2, God’s response is one of romance: “Therefore, behold, I will allure her… I will speak tenderly to her…” The same invitation echoes through the Song of Solomon: “Come to me, my bride, my love…” is regarded as an expression of God’s invitation to His people, one of which we find echoes in the New Testament in which Paul describes the relationship of Christ to His church as that of a husband to a wife.

In our current context, the notion of romance is a self-indulgent, make-me-feel-good conception which is borne by the media: where ‘romance’ is to be swept off our feet, to be transported out of present realities into a surrealistic experience, both anaesthetic in quality and bringing a heightening of pleasure. This ‘knight-in-shining-armour’ approach spills across into our spiritual walk, and is often encapsulated in the passive depictions of saviour.
The notion of romance as it relates to our relationship with God is encapsulated in the constant invitation to intimacy in relationship. It is not the sum total of all that God calls us into, but at the same time remains an important aspect. The appearance of dreams and visions in scripture as part of our spiritual journey is an important reminder that we are called beyond a rational relationship into a place where intuition, imagination and romance have a place. Just as romance is an important part of intimate human relationships, it is not possible to sustain such a relationship at any depth entirely on romantic notions. But romance is one aspect which enables the relationship to continue.

Fairy tales often end with the words “And they lived happily ever after...” as though there were no more to worry about. But in the waft, wax and wane of life, there is a constant need for renewal and refocus. Romance is but one way in which new life can be invested in an ongoing journey.

When was the last time you sensed God’s wooing of you? Or vice versa?

July 31, 2005
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