Given that today is Valentine’s Day (or Singles Awareness Day for those of us currently not in a relationship), I thought it appropriate to take a pause from politics to discuss the subject of love. Recently at church, I was reminded of a love story that had a very profound impact on me growing up. It is the story of Jacob and Rachel that begins in the 29th chapter in the book of Genesis (that’s in the Bible for you non-Bible reading folks out there).
For those unfamiliar with this tale, let me provide you with a brief summary. Following the wishes of his parents, Jacob travels to his ancestral home to find a wife. While there, he meets Rachel, his first cousin, and falls in love with her. (Hey, suppress the shouts of “incest!” it was a fairly common practice back in those days.) Although details of Rachel’s appearance and personality are extremely limited, we are told that she “was beautiful in every way, with a lovely face and shapely figure” Genesis 29:17 NLT. Jacob speaks to Rachel’s father, his uncle Laban, and agrees to work for a period of seven years in order to win Rachel’s hand in marriage. (Again, before you decry the idea of trading one’s daughter for labor, one has to take into account that they lived in a different culture and time period where such arrangements were the norm.)
Although we don’t know the full extent of their love, it is obvious that Jacob must have had pretty powerful feelings for Rachel. After all, could you imagine working for seven years, (yes, seven years!) just to be with the person that you loved? But the story of Jacob and Rachel doesn’t simply end when Jacob’s term of service has been fulfilled. Laban, being a rather devious fellow, tricks Jacob into marrying his eldest daughter Leah, instead of Rachel. Now this development raises all sorts of relationship questions between Leah, Laban, Jacob, and Rachel, but as this post focuses on Jacob and Rachel, we’ll set those issues aside for now. Now, I would assume that if any of us were to find ourselves in Jacob’s shoes, we would likely be exceedingly upset, feeling horribly cheated. Nevertheless, driven by his devotion for her, Jacob agreed to work another seven years for his uncle in order to call Rachel his bride. Although we don’t really have any insight into Rachel’s opinions in this biblical story, I’d very much like to think that the feelings that Jacob felt for Rachel were reciprocated. The story continues for several more chapters, but as it exceeds the purpose of this article, I’ll stop here.
Personally, I found the idea of finding a Rachel of my own quite appealing, so much so, in fact, that I crafted a version of her into a character in my second novel (which will hopefully be available for public consumption at some point in the not-so-distant future). Of course, that does require me actually finishing it). Although there were some trivial differences between the fiction and real life (including, not surprisingly, having a name other than Rachel), in an unbelievable stroke of fortune, by the end of 2012, I believed that I had found a woman who could very well be my Rachel.
So what happened next, you might ask. Well, if you scroll down a few posts, you come across a poem, seemingly out of place among the myriad of political topics. Unfortunately, some love goes unrequited. Drawing from personal experience, unrequited love is perhaps the thorniest kind of love imaginable and, as this love is not the love of Jacob & Rachel, it is not the love I seek. I’ll confess that I’ve have mourned this realization every day for the last several weeks which is why you find snippets of this story recently embedded in the Virginia Conservative. Although it is a different kind of love as it is platonic, within the larger liberty movement must I continue along that path relatively unappreciated as well? Writing prolifically about the matter in a series of unsent letters and short stories has helped quite a bit, but a shredded heart is not something that can be mended overnight.
Even with all the setbacks of life, hope still survives. So wherever and whoever you are, and whether we discover each other tomorrow or it takes another full fourteen years of effort, I dedicate this post to you, my wonderful Rachel. And it is my sincere hope, good reader, if you have not yet found that special person, you too will one day come across a Rachel or Jacob of your own.
Thanks for reading and happy Valentine’s Day to everyone.