Love is patient, love is kind...
When I heard those words from First Corinthians at Mass Sunday, my mind drifted back to my wedding. Like so many other couples, we chose this as one of the readings in our ceremony, believing we would always be patient and kind with each other.
Well, we haven't. Not always.
It is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs...
Over the past thirty years I'm sure we've both committed each one of these sins. Marriage is tough. Pride is hard to swallow. Exhaustion and stress and differences of opinion on everything from kids and money to how to squeeze a tube of toothpaste just chip, chip, chip away at those bonds of love tying you together.
We've survived plenty of bumps. There have been times I didn't think we'd make it to the next week, much less the next anniversary, times I thought that bond had cracked right in two. But somehow each of us kept hanging on, and that bond would feel stronger than ever. For awhile.
I'm not taking a single day together for granted. Life is tricky.
It always protects, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
I believe this is true, if you're determined and stubborn and want it to be true bad enough to fight for it, to swallow your pride, to keep an open mind that perhaps your way isn't the only way.
To believe in your love for each other. To believe in God's love for each of you, and to ask for his love when your love isn't enough, which can happen all too often. To hang on to each other, no matter what.
When I stepped into my parents' home Sunday evening, the sound of running water drew me down the hallway to the bathroom. Water was pouring out of the shower head, thanks to a broken valve.
I discovered, from Daddy, it had been that way for more than 24 hours. Yikes, the water bill!
So first thing Monday morning, I called the plumber. Within thirty minutes, the dispatcher called to let us know someone was on their way...
...which upset Daddy, because Mama wasn't awake yet. He didn't want her to be disturbed. He worried more about her getting enough rest than that upcoming water bill.
Or...perhaps he worried she'd be mad and grumpy and he didn't want to deal with it.
After more than sixty years, their marriage is a dance of irritation and protectiveness, of tender looks and looks that could kill. Time is flying by faster than ever for them and instead of being able to savor their time together, they're too busy with trips to the emergency room and doctor's appointments and their kids trying to tell them what to do.
They're worried about each other. Self-sacrificing. If there was ever a time their love wasn't unconditional, it's long gone.
But I can't forget those four years in the middle when they were divorced. No contact whatsoever. I still don't know the details leading up to the split, and I don't want to.
Lord knows there were enough of them. They had faced tons of obstacles, from problems with kids and money to in-law issues. You name it...it happened to them. So I'm guessing there was a lack of patience and kindness, and a surplus of pride, anger, and record-keeping. How could there not be?
And yet...somewhere inside of them hope survived. Love persevered. Love didn't fail.
I bet they wish they could go back in time and get those four years back. I bet they wish they could have just listened to each other and not wasted so much time apart.
In just a few short months my oldest will be getting married. I guess that's why my mind is reflecting on all of this. I wish I could tell them that it will be easy, but I think they already know that it won't.
I do believe that the wisdom in these verses will see them through the inevitable bumps; I just hope they do a better job remembering them than we have.
Watching my parents, I know it's worth it. So, no matter what, I'll keep believing in us.