And I Thank God Every Day
Recently, I have been getting my butt kicked over at Where the Rubber Meets the Road, not by my friend Father Tim Moyle, and not by my new friend Lady Janus, who sees the world through a different lens than I do, but by a man alleging to be a Christian, who has been thumping his biblical quotations upside my head for the past week. I love the Bible, and believe in its authenticity. I love the Lord Jesus, and have accepted Him as the Lord of my life. So, I am hurt, when someone claiming to be a Christian tries to diminish my faith because I live it in the Catholic Church.
But, there is more to my reality than some bible thumper having at me. I am married to the love of my life. That we have only had 10 years together, this coming summer, some of which were less than stellar, and that I am now 60 years of age, does not minimize the depth of the love that I have for the wonderful woman that I am married to.
She is a living saint to me, not because she can quote scripture off the tip of her tongue (she can't), and not because she is perfect (close, but she is not). She is the first person that I have ever been able to see Jesus in, every day, and she helps me to see Jesus in others because of that, even bible thumpers and those who see things differently.
My Dear Wife is not physically healthy. She has been ill for at least 7 years, and has grown worse again this past half year. When I met her, she was the most physically beautiful woman for her age I had ever met, as she was then in her late 40's. Prescription medications and illness have changed her physical appearance, and have diminished her abilities. Yet, she has grown more beautiful to me every day, and to me she is far more beautiful than she was at her most physically attractive. You see, I have come to know her heart, her heart for God, and her heart for me, and her heart for both of our families, and for those others we encounter daily.
She has been settling in lately to an understanding that I will outlive her, with no time line in mind. I do not know if she is right, and she is at peace with it, but it scares the crap out of me. I cannot imagine a day without my love, or how I would carry on. Maybe, she is not right. I do not know.
So, particularly lately, I have taken this seriously, and have chosen to do things that will make the time we have the best it can be. Hopefully, we will have 30 more years together. But, I do not want to have regrets if the time is less.
I have taken on the cooking tasks for us both. She enjoys knitting and sewing, and some crafts, and as I have been limited in things that I could do, as a result of my own disability, I have taken on making our meals meaningful. I have been trying to find healthy food choices for us both, and have taken to move our dinners from wherever, which could have included in front of the news on tv, or at our breakfast counter, to the dining room table.
Dinner almost every night now includes candles lit, and a meal that befits the love of my life. We have had the most delightful conversations these last few weeks, and keep drawing closer every day. She tells me about her worries and concerns, and about her faith.
As well, we pray together every night, and our prayer time together has gotten deeper. We do not rush through it, but take the time necessary to pray as we feel led, each evening.
But, where my love shines for me often lately has been at Church. A few incidents that have occurred have, in retrospect, wakened me up to a reality that I do not yet understand.
Before Easter, one week, we were seated behind a couple much younger than us, and the woman was in a great deal of physical discomfort. She had a cushion to help her sit up straighter. At the end of mass, she was sitting, not standing, and she commented to me that I had a beautiful singing voice. It takes no humility, real or false, for me to note that that was not really true, but something had caught her attention. We spoke with her for a few minutes, and she shared about a number of accidents (3 at least) that had happened to her over the last several years, that have seriously physically disabled her. Yet, she had this most beautiful smile, which came from her faith. Her smile reminded me of the love of my life, who stood beside me at this time. I asked her if we could pray with her, and she eagerly agreed. I boldly prayed for her, as my Dear Wife quietly prayed as well. By the time we were done this young woman was in tears, as was I. Clearly, the Lord had moved somehow in this time. What I did not know until later, was that My Dear Wife had been been led to pray for her throughout the mass, so here was I tagging along on her deal, thinking I was out in left field. I have looked for this couple each week since, and have not seen them again. I cannot for certain say that they were in fact real. I think they were, and I hope to see them sometime, but maybe they weren't.
Our Parish of St. George in London has a monthly breakfast put on by the Knights of Columbus after the Sunday morning masses. That day we went to the breakfast. When we go, I know to let My Dear Wife lead the way, and she did. She seated us with an older couple, who we would never meet or have reason to meet usually, and we had a delightful chat, as she, herself, drew them and their story out.
Today, we went to mass, and I thought during mass that I wanted to take My Dear Wife out for breakfast. Lo and behold, the Knights were doing breakfast again in the hall, so after mass, we went for that. Again, my love steered us to a table with a lone couple at it. There we met a couple, who as we learned from talking to them, were developmentally challenged. They are probably in their 30's, are married, and love each other very much. I was taken by how the young woman referred to her husband as her HUSBAND. There was a respect and reverence to how she said it. We did not talk about rocket science (good, I don't know anything about it), world politics (good, I have read and heard enough), nor about religion and faith really (I'm okay with that too). In fact, we did not talk about much at all, just listened to a young woman, who loves life and lives her life to the best of her abilities, and the love of her life, her gentle spirited husband. We received the time with them as a blessing to us, and it was.
So, putting things into perspective, I am no longer concerned with someone questioning my faith. Someday, I will meet my maker, and He can question it if He wishes. For now, I live with a saint, and am determined to make the best of the days we have, not selfishly, but with the intention of making the world a better place before we leave it.
I do not know if a man can be any happier than to spend his days with his soul mate, and enjoy a relationship with another human being that draws him closer to God, and the image of God that is all of us. It is possible that priests and religious, who take and keep a vow of chastity are able to draw closer to God in that vow. It is possible that a man who is given the gift of consecrating the Eucharist at mass is able to draw into a relationship with God that is deeper, and more meaningful. As for me, I have not experienced my faith that way. I am experiencing it in marriage, and that is fine by me.
So, to my fundamentalist brother, who is certain that we must leave the Catholic Church to find salvation, I say, God be with you. I know that He is with me.