Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Scenes From a Wedding Anniversary

Here are a couple of the pink roses that my wife found when she awoke on June 22

The blog has been a little short on words recently. The stats indicate that it's been short on readers too, haha, although it's difficult to assess how many "hits" on a post actually constitute thoughtful reading of its contents. I still have my faithful "core readership" (Hi Dad, hi Mom! ... and others too) and I don't think they will object too much if I post more pictures and less dramatic thoughts.

Eileen and I celebrated our eighteenth anniversary on June 22. Lots of folks on social media already saw this picture from outside the church, after the wedding on that hot day in 1996. I need to make a better digital reproduction, but meanwhile this captures the happy feeling of that day in a better way than any of the professional photographs:

We were young and cheerful, running on adrenaline and a hundred concerns about the reception that had not even started yet, which was good because underneath it all we were both completely exhausted. Eileen had been up almost all night finishing the veil for the wedding dress (she made the whole dress herself -- well, actually with some help from her mother -- and it hangs waiting for our daughters if and when they should have need of it).

Pink flowers, but red wine
My wife has amazing energy now. Eighteen years ago she was a phenomenon (i.e. she's actually slowed down over the years, a little). Then and now, she does everything out of a simple and very rich contemplative soul. She is not a scattered person. My wife has always devoted her energy to things that take time, things that require patience and tenacity. Whether it's getting an education, making a wedding dress, raising a bunch of kids, nurturing friendships, caring for (and suffering with) a sick husband, cooking a Christmas dinner, or preparing the environment of a Montessori classroom: Eileen just does it, and sticks with it until it's done as well as it can be.

It was God's will that she should marry me. He knew that she needed a challenge for a husband. I'm joking, of course. Well... not entirely. I'm a challenge. But I have a pretty good mind (when it's working) and a big heart, and I am grateful to fill it by cherishing her, supporting her, and working with her in living a mysterious common life: a common mission to form and educate our children, and to extend this educating vocation into the wider community. We collaborate as teachers, with our children every day, and then in our works, even though we are usually in different environments using different pedagogical instruments.

I think if Eileen and I were shipwrecked with a group of people on a deserted island, we would probably start some sort of school.

I love her, and I just can't say it enough. In eighteen years we've been through so much hard stuff. When we got married we were "older" than many couples: I was 33 and she was 29. We had lived and traveled and worked and seen a thing or two about life (though not nearly as much as we -- or at least I -- thought at the time). I was a professor, a publisher, and an editor. She was an experienced teacher and had been the headmistress of a private school. We really liked each other and just enjoyed being together (we still do, very much). It was a good solid foundation from which to start.

But we have needed much more than anything we could have imagined back then. Above all we have needed the grace of Jesus in the sacrament of marriage in order to persevere together through the arduous and painful circumstances that life has presented to us. We walk together with a calmer but stronger confidence, because we have experienced the faithfulness of Christ's love. It strengthens our fidelity to have seen that He really is faithful. And yet we will be stretched and tested more in the future, and we will find Him again in new ways as long as we still have need to grow.

With all this we have also found much joy, peace, and trust, and with God's help we will continue to do so for many years to come.

I love you, dear Eileen.

We went to a quiet Italian restaurant at the end of the day: this was a joy!