Monday, June 27, 2011

Far From Home, Near to My Heart

Well, the weekend is over and Eileen is back in Baltimore. We had a nice (inexpensive) dinner and a walk down Main Street in the twilight to celebrate our Anniversary. And we had thoughtful, uninterrupted conversation, which is never something to be taken for granted in a house of five kids who are always expressing themselves.

I love my time with my wife. We were good friends for five years before--how can I put this?--the "opportunity" was given for us to discover that we loved each other. For a short period of that time (when we first met), we both lived in the Washington D.C. area, but then she went to Texas to pursue graduate studies at the University of Dallas (where she eventually earned her first Masters Degree in English Literature). I lived for a year in Italy. We continued to be friends even as we pursued (what appeared to be) diverse paths thousands of miles away. During the whole time we corresponded, by that ancient form of technology known as "the letter."

The New Media are great, and I know many long term relationships that have been sustained by email, and now even Skype, but this was 1990-1995, at the very end of the Age of the Handwritten Letter. And I must say that I am very glad. Eileen and I have a stack of handwritten letters from each other, which we can still read and laugh over, and the very ink and paper and handwriting bring back the times of our youth, and the words are written with a personal care that reveals a closeness that we shared but did not as yet understand.

I was a young man studying theology, with no money and no idea even of what continent I was going to live on. She was dedicated to literature and then teaching, at a school in Texas to which she seemed very committed. Then in 1995, after my first year as a professor at Christendom, Eileen's situation in Texas changed, and she decided to move to Virginia. I had a job and she was here and it took only a week for us to realize that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.

Eileen and I have been specially blessed, in that we love many things in common besides each other. We love to share things together, to look at things together, and to discuss the significance of things. We love art and literature and good food and the task of education, to which we are both devoted, and which we feel responsible to carry out in some way together. Obviously, this entails first the education of our own children, but also the profession we share leads us to look outward toward the work of forming other young minds and hearts.

Marriage is a beautiful thing, because it is more than just the grand romance of loving each other, but also the vocation of loving and building up the world together. The family is the immediate experience of this; the amazing realization that God has brought you together not just for each other, but also for the sake of these other persons who he has willed and loved for all eternity. The life of children! What a miracle!

To share an educational mission that encompasses our children and also reaches out into the community and society is a special grace and a particular path; thus, as Eileen pursues tasks in Baltimore necessary to our journey on that path, I feel--in spite of the physical distance--especially close to her.