This week my wife and I are celebrating our 25th year of marriage with a return to the place of our honeymoon on the island of St John, in the U.S. Vigin Islands. For whatever reason, we have not been back here for 25 years. As you might expect, in some ways it has changed; in other ways, not at all.
There are newlyweds here. Coming in this week we met a newly married couple, in their twenties, and it was quite amazing to watch them and think that we were them 25 years ago. So much has come in 25 years, both good and bad, and yet here we are still keeping on.
Why have we kept on when so many have not, when even so many Christians have not persevered in their marriages? I wish could say. It would be easy to say by God's grace, and that would be true,of course, but how would it be true? Other Christians have divorced.
I do however, remember something we both always said from our earliest years of marriage: we each married our best friend. We were friends for some time before we were anything else. We made that commitment before any other. And truly, we still are.
When you visit a place 25 years later, things change. The buildings here are older and seem to have settled more firmly into the earth. Yet they look more at home than before, more a part of the natural environment that was always here. The beaches remain, the familiar coves with names like Scotts Beach,Turtle Cove, Honeymoon Beach -- all the same. All of that which Laurence Rockefeller designed Caneel Bay to be, all of what that visionary saw in this place is still here. It has matured, but its essential nature remains the same. The quiet solitude, the manicured lawns, the decorum in dress and manner remain the same, unchanged. It is really more of what it was meant to be, simply seasoned by the years.
By God's grace, common and special, 25 years later we too are, I think, essentially the same people we started as in this marriage, seasoned and more at home with who we are, continuing to grow ever Homeward together. When people who have not seen us since we were much younger see us now, they generally say something like "you look the same," or "you haven't changed." I'm glad of it. I hope the perception extends farther than mere appearance.
It's true Rockefeller has died and his resort here has taken on a new partner, but mostly they seem to have been faithful to his vision of what this place is and should be. So our prayer too is that we would be faithful to God and to who He intended us to be. It was His vision, after all, and we who are keeping on are just becoming "rounder" (deeper) characters in His story, the one with no end, the one that is keepin on.