by Holly Mohr
Last Tuesday was our wedding anniversary. Our 14th, to be exact. Not a flashy number that calls for once-in-a-lifetime trips, maybe, but a significant occasion, nonetheless.
But again, it was a Tuesday. We’re talking a work night; there are kids, dishes, frenetic schedules. But we decided to have a picnic to mark the occasion. Eric made gazpacho soup; we gathered some plums from our CSA and surreptitiously poured Cabernet into coffee tumblers like we were in college.
It brought me back.
Literally, as it turns out. Eric remembered the exact spot in Schenley Park where he proposed during another picnic and he brought us there.
The spot didn’t look all that different, which felt a little bit comical, but steadying. With all that’s changed in the world, in our consciousness, in our family structure, this, this could be counted on. (Not forever, I know. I’ve learned, or at least consistently tried to learn, not to take anything for granted.
But I’ve also learned to accept gift where it comes, and this was gift.
We got married fairly young and quickly. I know that doesn’t always go well (to say the least). But at the time, we knew we loved each other, we knew we had common values (building a life filled with meaning and intentional choices over conventional expectations, cultivating a common faith lived with a critical consciousness, a commitment to supporting one another as full humans who would co-work and co-parent, no gender-role binaries allowed). But probably the most important conversation we had over and over (and continue to have) was to commit to life as a project we were building together.
There’s that Rilke quote about love being “two solitudes looking in the same direction” or something like that. Granted, I could use a little more warmth and cuddliness than the picture Rilke illustrates, but the general idea is one we both signed onto. We knew we didn’t know every last detail about each other and that we never would. We trusted each other’s hearts and vision and decided to commit to the project of supporting who we would become, together.
We had known so many couples who knew each other a decade or more before marrying, to be “sure” about the other person. While that’s no doubt important in certain relationships, I have also seen it act as a way of commodifying and boxing in the other person. (“How dare you change and grow when I studied you for a decade to make sure I had pinned down every last inch of you)!”
Our experiment could have gone a very different way, I understand. We were young, naïve, idealistic.
But on the other hand, thank God for that. Thank God that for whatever reason, this overanxious, overanalyzing little stress ball that I am had enough of a trusting and idealistic phase of life that I was able to see love and goodness when it appeared.
I’ve been thinking about the book of Ecclesiastes lately, that buzzkill of a Wisdom book in the Hebrew Scriptures. When I was younger, it used to depress the hell out of me. For everything there is a season?! I wanted everything all the time. I wanted to (anxiously) clutch all of life in my little hands and never let any of it change.
I see Ecclesiastes differently now. Again, I want to accept the gifts and to allow that what is gift in one age is not necessarily gift in another. Now, today, at 37, I treasure the steadiness. I appreciate my increased patience for limitation and lack of patience for disingenuousness. I know what I will accept and what I won’t, and I like the power I feel in my body when I recognize each.
In all humility, without taking anything for granted, I say thank you for this season and for all the seasons past. And yes, I do pray for more, in hope and trust. Thank God for the season of naivete and idealism that brought us together. Thank God for this time of focus and incisiveness.
May we continue to recognize and celebrate the gift, giving it its season.