Finding the Sacred in the Details of Marriage

two hearts
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. Continue reading

Why Do People Get Married?

Shall we Dance

Why do people choose to get married?

Years ago I attended a retreat program presented by Deacon Arthur Miller. There were about thirty people there and it was an inspiring night filled with wisdom, laughter, and the sharing of faith. At the end of the program, I introduced myself to Deacon Art just to say a quick thanks. About six months later, I had the opportunity to attend another one of his programs. As I entered the room, Deacon Art came over to me with a welcoming smile. “Hello, Sheri!” At my look of surprise, he said: “You didn’t think I remembered you, did you?” An immediate sense of pleasure and gladness washed over me. To be noticed like that…to be remembered by name and picked out of the crowd, for just that moment…it transformed the experience for me. I felt like my presence mattered to the group and the purpose of the day. (It wasn’t until much later that I realized I was wearing a nametag, so Deacon Art had a little help in remembering me that day!) But the point remains the same. It was the moment of being noticed that stayed with me.

It brings to mind a wonderful movie I saw years ago called Shall We Dance, staring Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon. The movie is about John and Beverly Clark, a couple who’ve been married for almost 20 years. They have a good life together, two children, and a loving marriage. But John is in a rut and he doesn’t know why or how to get out of it. Without giving too much of the plot away in case you decide to see it someday, there’s a scene halfway through the movie where Beverly Clark is asked a question. “Why do you think people get married?” Her response: Continue reading