the fiery spirit

There are animals totally devoid of aggression which keep together for life as firmly united flocks. One would think that such animals would be predestined to develop permanent friendships and brotherly unions of individuals, and yet these characteristics are never found among such peaceable herd creatures; their association is always entirely anonymous. A personal bond, an individual friendship, is found only in animals with highly developed intra-specific aggression; in fact, this bond is firmer, the more aggressive the particular animal and species is... Proverbially the most aggressive of all mammals, Dante's bestia senza pace, the wolf, is [also] the most faithful of friends. (Lorenz, On Aggression)

An unexpected and very interesting observation. I recalled this passage after a conversation with Heather yesterday, about what I most valued in her and in our relationship. Pre-marital musings had unsettled us a bit. Raised questions about our expectations of each other, stirring up the stereotypical spousal expectations, those things usually valued in a marital partner—did we measure up? But after some reflection, I came back with the two things I value most, two things that I think are bound up together: passion and faith.

Passion appears in many ways, in anger and also in the incredible strength of some relationships. It appeared in Jesus' fiery spirit. The spirit of risk and utter abandon. And this is also the nature of faith, the abandonment of self for the sake of the absolute Good, for the sake of Love. Passionate faith is the way God's Love enters.

What I value most in myself and in a partner, in Heather specifically, is this fiery spirit of abandon that empties us, so that Love may enter. No spousal attribute or skill is nearly as important. Skills can be learned. But the inner fire...

Also, in all the recent talk of marriage and domesticity I've been wondering about how these tend to "settle down" a person (namely me). I don't want to be domesticated. It may help to emphasize passion and faith in our relationship, right from the start. And I'm glad we're going out on the road soon after our marriage; I think it sets the right tone for our life together.