Trial by Fire
Enduring relationships and the volcano gods: There’s an ancient and honored legend of ‘Trial by Fire’ to validate serious relationship of two decades. The mythos is that once in twenty years, couples must circle the brim of a volcanic caldera, as a testament, demonstrating the virtuousness of their commitment to the other. If they survive this trial, then their marriage is once again sanctified by the Fire Gods deep within the volcano. The test is simple. Together, they just have to walk around the rim of the caldera. If both survive the other, and together, they survive the irascible, righteous gods within, then their relationship is consecrated to carry on for another two decades.
Most people barely remember this tradition, and if they do, they take it as a metaphorical exercise. Not Ursula and I, we’re literalist! Today we hiked the local volcano (Monte Nuovo) overlooking the Gulf of Pozzuoli, it was a nervous experience, at first. We updated our wills last year, so administratively, we were prepared. But being prepared emotionally is entirely a different predicament. As we strayed near the edge of the caldera, we kept a wary eye out for the long, fiery reach of the gods within, and each other. We each had our opportunities.
Opportunities lost, or gained?
There was one occasion when Ursula was standing too close to the edge, bent over to tie her shoe. This was my chance! But, as I saw her shapely posterior momentarily vulnerable. My mind temporarily slipped into another fantasy type of opportunity. I think most husbands of attractive women are dogs, just Pavlovian and predictable creatures that are easily distracted by simplistic intended, or unintended overtures. Needless to say, she was up and moving before I came to my senses. My chance was gone,,, and I’m quite happy with that.
There were a few occasions where I stepped dangerously close to the edge of the caldera to get better photos. She berated me to ‘stay back’ from the brim and ‘be more careful.’ Yet, on a few occasions, I sensed her move in close behind me. I further sensed indecision in her mind. On two occasions, I felt her hand in the small of my back and readied myself for the fatal shove. But it never came. Instead, she gently held on to me to ensure I didn’t clumsily stumble down the cliff and inadvertently trigger her Survivor’s Benefit Plan. I gave her plenty of chances, but she passed them up.
Another two decades
As we wandered back down the hill, we looked at each other and giggled. Apparently, the righteous Fire Gods within, found us worthy of each other and passed up their chances as well. It looks like we have another two decades together.
All was good until after we descended the mountain and decided to take a right, rather than a left. To the left led us back to our gracious host’s home and a bottle of chilled Champaign awaiting our celebration. To our right was a loop around and ancient thermal lake. Neither Ursula or I could remember what myths and lore existed for married couples and the lake’s Nymph Goddesses within.
Happy Anniversary my Love!
Enduring relationships and the volcano gods
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