A year after I graduated from college, I was vacationing on Cape Cod with some girlfriends. One evening, I drove over to the next town to visit our friend Dave, who was staying in a rental cottage with his parents. I had heard lots of stories about Mr. and Mrs. F., but I had never met them. When I got up to the cottage, Mrs. F. flung open the front door and wrapped me in a huge hug. Pulling me into the living room, where her husband was sitting in an easy chair reading the paper, she said, “You must be Sheri. I’m Judy.” Then she pointed to her husband, “and this… is my beloved.” Mr. F. gave her an affectionate smile and got up to shake my hand.
It was over 20 years ago, but I have never forgotten this encounter. Somehow, at that young age, I knew I was witnessing an important truth about marriage. Just like so many of us, Mr. and Mrs. F. had a pretty ordinary life. She was a mother and homemaker. He was a professor at a nearby law school. They raised one son, took care of their house and garden, and every once and a while, rented a house on Cape Cod for a week in the summer. Yet that moment of a wife looking at her husband and calling him “Beloved” was anything but ordinary.
St. Francis de Sales talked about looking for God in the everyday circumstances of ordinary life. In other words… finding God in the details. That’s the perfect way to describe the encounter I witnessed in Cape Cod all those years ago. This simple, intimate exchange between a husband and wife was a moment filled with grace. To me, “finding God in the details” is a perfect way to describe marriage and to start seeing married life as a true sacrament. Looking through all the mundane, ordinary tasks of married life and seeing “the Beloved” is the truest sense of experiencing the sacred.
Fr. Stan Kennedy, M.S. once pondered in a sermon why God waited so long before calling Jesus to begin his ministry. He was 30 years old. Surely old enough to leave the nest and get on with the work of Salvation. Why allow Jesus so many years to live out his ordinary life as a carpenter’s son? Father Stan’s theory, and one that I agree with, is that God was acknowledging how important and valuable… how sacred… every day family life is.
In their book, The Call to Holiness in Christian Marriage, Kathleen Fischer Hart and Thomas Hart say the following: “There is no ideal life of Christian love free from visits from in-laws, noisy family meals…, paying bills, and watching TV.” And the longer you’ve been married, the more you know this is true. (My husband and I can personally vouch for that watching TV part!)
It’s my belief that these ordinary sacred moments—where we are giving and receiving God’s love—happen continuously throughout a marriage. The challenge is stopping long enough to recognize them for what they are. To become aware of those times when your spouse—however he or she may choose to express it—is pointing to you and calling you “Beloved.”
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!
To celebrate the six-month anniversary of Hearing God’s Whisper, I’ll be giving away THREE FREE COPIES of Prayer Therapy, the book I featured in Monday’s blog post. Anyone who signs up to follow my blog between now and March 10 will be entered. For those who already follow, consider asking a friend to sign up for this blog. Someone you believe would benefit from hearing God’s gentle whisper. If they officially follow, you’ll be entered into the drawing too! Thank you so much for reading and commenting these past six months. Your willingness to enter this journey with me has been a true gift and blessing!