Marriage Moats- Marble Chute

Published: Tue, 07/16/13

Marriage Moats
Caring for Marriage
Marble Chute
Photo: Jenny Stein
Once again I am beholden to my nephew who found this video. In it a wooden ball ripples down a track with bars cut to play Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring. It is actually an ad but since the brief words in the last twenty seconds are in Japanese I am not even tempted to buy anything. Yet I am intrigued by the unspoken. Who put this together? How long did it take? Who had the idea and how many people scoffed before they believed it was possible? How many times can I listen before the delight subsides? Would Bach laugh? Was the lone deer impressed?

John and I have a history with marble chutes. When the first batch of kids were little we spent one summer day duct taping wooden slats and cardboard corners to the living room walls. The marbles jostled pretty far around the room before they clinked into a jar. It reminded him of the marble chute at his grandparent's house, which was also made of wood. One Christmas I splurged and bought a kit from a catalog with Science in the title. Zack built it in the afternoon after all the smaller presents were opened and it dominated post Christmas life for a few weeks. There is even a glass encased marble chute at CHOP that Ben has spent time watching. It has probably been in motion for years.

What I notice in the Japanese video is that each note is kind of plunkish. Not music at its stellar best. But in the parade of notes descending through the forest that matters not a whit. It is part of a melody that has endured for centuries, one that I love and recognize. When I was in practice back in college I could even play it on the guitar. 

Hearing the song humbly performed by a wooden ball it evokes a forest of feelings. Anticipation, remembrance, reiteration, and of course the JOY that is it's name. 

Lately my days have felt rather plunkish. I take out the chickens, write a few lines of a story, plunge my hands in sudsy water, piece a quilt block. When my adult kids call, which they do, I am at a loss for anything noteworthy to report. They on the other hand are jumping out of planes and ziplining across the Alaskan coastline, camping at Yosemite and earning big bucks at a financial investment company. But my life has fallen into a rhythm not entirely stellar, heard only by a modest audience. 

Marriage is a melody of sorts, repetitive certainly, cadenced with anticipation and remembrance. It may seem like a lonely sound, on those days when we are each following different threads of the music. 

But it is my tenderest hope that when we can step back far enough from the trees, and photoshop together all the pieces of our lives, it will be a song worth hearing. 

Caring for Marriage