Friday, January 9, 2015

"a golden second marriage…"

"I want a moment of silence,
and a moment of prayer,
for the love we'll need to make it
in the world out there..."

I know that I have used Don Henley's, "For My Wedding," before to illustrate a sentiment. But today, it leapt into my heart as a song of gratitude.

You see, my dear friend Barbye posted a status update on Facebook that read: "On my way to help my dad and stepmom celebrate their golden anniversary." It took me apart.  And since my friend mentioned that it was her stepmom -- it was obviously a second marriage for her dad.  It touched me deeply, and I found myself weeping with joy for them.

I remember, not long ago, sharing with an acquaintance that my husband and I would be celebrating our anniversary. I was so grateful for all the ways we'd navigated unaddressed issues, grown in grace, and worked together as a couple -- and as partners with my former spouse and his wife -- in parenting our children. But the response I got was heart-breaking. She said, "Well really Kate,  it isn't your first marriage, so I don't think it matters if you are together for seven years, or twenty-five years -- you've already failed."

I was stunned into silence. Truly. I didn't have a single thing to say.  And she'd said it so matter-of-factly, that it was clear to me that it held no malice. It was not her intent to be hurtful. But it was, never-the-less, hard to hear.

We went on with our meeting, and when I was finally seated behind the wheel of my car, I lost it. I let my head fall into my hands, and wept long and hard. Not just for myself and our marriage, but for all the couples who have given themselves another chance at loving unconditionally, sharing selflessly, and hoping for "forever," even in the face of a disappointing sense of loss.

Every second - or third - marriage is a tribute to the power of hope over experience. And to hear that my friend's dad and stepmom were celebrating their 50th anniversary, was an unexpected gift today. I wanted to stand on a mountaintop and sing a song of grateful praise.

I don't believe that any couple goes into their marriage with a "plan B." We all hope and pray that we will not fall. We pray that we have what it takes to endure, to find solutions to our problems, to feel grace coursing through our days together. As Talmudic scholar, Rabbi Itzak, once wrote, "When any marriage ends, even the altar weeps."

But, I believe, that when we have the courage - and hope - that it takes to try again, "even the altar kneels…" in holy wonder and benediction.

In her primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy offers this blessing:

"May Christ, Truth,
be present at every bridal altar
to turn the water into wine
and to give to human life
an inspiration by which
man's spiritual, eternal existence
may be discerned."
Christ, Truth, present at every bridal altar. First marriages, second marriages -- all marriages. Because marriage is a triumph of hope. And, as poet Emily Dickinson so beautiful writes:

"Hope is the thing with feathers,
that perches in the soul,
and sings the tune,
without the words,
and never stops - at all…"
So, bless you Barbye's parents. Bless your marriage, and your example of enduring love.  Bless your family gathered to celebrate you, and bless your willingness to allow hope to triumph -- 50 years ago, and every day since.

Every marriage is a blessing. Every moment we spend in the laboratory of persistent, cooperative loving is a triumph of selflessness over self-interest. Every day is a gift of grace. First marriages, second marriages, eighth marriages. A first anniversary or a fiftieth -- each is a triumph, worthy of celebration.

As Don Henley so humbly sings, this is my prayer:

"To want what I have
And take what I am given, with grace.
For this I pray…"

On my wedding day, on your wedding day, and at each anniversary - let's celebrate each other's triumphs of hope and love.

So grateful,


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