Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Time and Space; and Farewell

. . .

Alas, this will be the last post at Desmond's Place. The corporate info-trolls at my company have placed Blogger 'under the ban', so I can no longer post from work, or manage my blog, or even comment on your blogs. Since I do virtually all of my blogging from work (other things fill up my time at home), that fairly effectively renders me a blogging non-entity (or, no more than a silent lurker). So, farewell.

Truth to tell, I've been preparing to ease my way out of blogging anyway, for a while now. When I restarted this blog in August, I thought that perhaps I could do it in a less obsessive way. In the end, I couldn't. As I said the last time I shut down this blog, the Real World trumps Blog-world. So, it's time for me to go. Again. The info-trolls just gave me a necessary kick in the backside.

I will miss my little group of blog-friends. There are too many of you now for me to make individual call-outs, but you can all consider yourselves thanked. It's been fun.


Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The Love of My Life

A blogger recently wrote me an e-mail, in which she said, among other things, “You entered into marriage with the love of your life.” And I know what she is talking about. Molly is indeed The Love of My Life, and blessed am I because of it.

A few years ago, Molly began a little daily tradition - when I would come home at the end of the day and she heard the back door open just before dinner-time, she'd call out, “Is that The Love of My Life?” Which was (is) wonderfully heart-warming for me. I usually respond by saying, “I sure hope so!” And in recent years, the younger kids have joined in the fun. So that, these days, when I open the back door, 8M will usually come running; when he sees that it’s me, he’ll run to Molly, calling out as he goes, “Mom! It’s The Love of Your Life! The Love of Your Life is home!” It doesn’t get any better than that, let me tell you.

But, truth to tell, I didn’t marry the Love of My Life; I’m married to the Love of My Life, but she wasn’t that when we got married. Some of you actually did marry the Love of Your Life – your high-school sweetheart, maybe, or someone whom you just knew, within minutes of your first meeting, would end up sharing your life with you. That wasn’t the case for Molly and me. When we got married, I was marrying a very good friend, someone with whom I shared several important life goals and aims, with whom I got along very well, and whose company I enjoyed enough to think that we could actually have a life together. She agreed with me enough to accept my proposal; we got married, and la, la, how the life went on.

It’s almost funny to look back on it now, but Molly still tells people that our first year of marriage was the worst year of her life. Her adjustment to the new ‘life-together’ was a bit harder than mine, I guess. . .

But, somewhere along the line, over the ensuing 25 years, she became the Love of My Life. We put in the necessary work, we shared our lives, we suffered together, and in the process of all that, our two lives became one, to the point that I can’t imagine my life without her. This woman, whom I liked and admired way back when, has proven to be even more solid, more admirable, and more amazingly wonderful than I thought she was.

God is good. . .


Friday, January 5, 2007

My Other Old Flame

A while ago, when I posted about my 'old flame', I referred to her, very cryptically (if not terribly creatively) as 'GF1'. And I'm sure that the more perceptive among you were asking yourselves, "Why did he call her 'GF1' and not just 'GF', or 'OGF' (for 'Old GirlFriend, I suppose), or something like that? Does 'GF1' imply the existence of a 'GF2'?" To which I reply - you are very clever bloggers; you figured me right out, you did.

When I was a freshman in college, I met a young woman, with whom I shared a couple classes, and who also, as luck would have it, lived in the women's wing of my dorm. She was witty and clever, and very bright - interesting, and lots of fun. She was also a strong Christian - she went to the same charismatic prayer meeting that I did, and, when the community began, she was part of it, as well.

As I got to know her better, I found that we had quite a bit of other common ground, besides. Both our families had moved during our senior year of high school, uprooting us from schools and friendships we'd had for years. And, coincidentally, our families had both moved to the suburbs of the same midwestern megalopolis; in fact, they lived about twenty minutes from each other. We began to spend a lot of time together, and by the time spring break rolled around, we were a definite 'item'.

Our parents' proximity to each other meant that, even when we returned home for the summer, we could easily get together pretty much whenever we wanted to, which turned out to be quite a lot. It also meant that we got to know each other's families very well. Which is a very helpful thing, if you mean to build a solid, long-term relationship. Which I certainly did.

GF2 effectively introduced me to the Catholic Church (which I actually mentioned in this post, without referring to her by name; or pseudonym; whatever). I began the process of being received into the Catholic Church when I thought that I would marry her someday (I mentioned it before, but it bears repeating, that I wasn't far into the process before I made the decision to become Catholic on my own behalf, and not just for her).

But ultimately, I think we were mismatched in a few significant ways. For one, the whole time we were together, she was never completely certain that marriage was what she wanted for her life. From time to time, she would get a strong urge to be a nun. Which was certainly her prerogative, but definitely not what I wanted to hear.

I also think that we were somewhat mismatched temperamentally. Both Molly and GF1 are very outgoing, sanguine personalities, and very complementary to my more brooding, melancholy tendencies. But GF2 is temperamentally very similar to me, at least in terms of brooding melancholy. The problem with that being, that whenever one of us got 'down-in-the-dumps', the other one tended to follow them down into the dumps, rather than help them get out of their depression.

Anyway, between those factors (and a few others, like the fact that that we were both still teenagers at the time we were together), our relationship, at least in romantic terms, ended after a bit more than a year. I think we both agreed that our relationship was distracting us from things that we needed to be paying more attention to, like finishing our education(s), growing stronger and more mature in our Christian lives, and just growing up in general. (She probably agreed more than I did, but I could admit the truth of it.) And so, we broke off our romantic relationship.

That was incredibly painful for me, and made all the moreso by the fact that I was still in regular contact with her in the life of the community. For a few years afterwards, we practically ignored each other in public, just because neither of us could figure out how to treat each other 'normally'.

An interesting epilog to this story is that, after we broke up, Molly joined the community, and she and GF2 became very close friends. To the point that Molly asked her to be a bridesmaid in our wedding. Which GF2 accepted. And which my mom thought was very weird, but whatcha gonna do? By the time Molly and I were engaged, GF2 was also in a serious relationship with a guy who, in the fullness of time, would become her husband. In fact, they more-or-less announced their engagement at our wedding reception. So, our lives have been intertwined in some interesting ways over the years, even though we never revisited our 'old flame'.

Today, GF2 is happily married to the same guy (they just had their 26th anniversary), and the mother of seven kids, all of whom she has home-schooled (five of them, so far, through high school). In recent years, she and her husband have become one of our closest friend-couples (the 'big-family' thing, no doubt), and one of her sons, a theology student, has become a good friend of mine in his own right. Somewhere along the line, all of our kids have found out that "Our mom and your dad used to date each other," which is the object of great mirth among them. We would both be tickled pink to have two of our kids marry each other - if we can't have kids together, maybe we can have grandkids together.

But that's another story, yet to be written, if at all. . .


Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Holy Family

This past Sunday was the Feast of the Holy Family on the Catholic liturgical calendar. In recent years, Molly and I have taken on a certain 'devotion' to the Holy Family. I mean, on a completely basic level, we aspire to holiness for our own family, so there's a certain 'identification' there - here's a holy family; we want our family to be holy; let's pay attention to them. I mean, if you can't take some lessons on family life from Jesus, Mary and Joseph, whatcha gonna do?

Our priest, in his homily Sunday, made what I thought was a very rich, deep point - that, when Christ came to earth in human flesh, he didn't fall out of the sky in armor, riding on a horse; he didn't duck into a nearby phone booth, like Superman; he was born. Born of a woman, and, more to the point for the feast at hand, born into a family. The Incarnation itself happened in the context of a human family. . .

. . . It can seem a bit daunting to measure our family against the standard of Jesus, Mary and Joseph - we aren't saints (and, if you lived with us, you would know just how saintly we really aren't). When I look at our family, the whole concept of 'holy family' and what it might look like applied to us, can become painfully, almost mockingly, abstract. It's hard to see it happening in any kind of 'concrete' way, and sometimes I come close to despair that 'holy' and 'my family' would be utterly oxymoronic if referred to each other.

And yet, even Jesus, Mary and Joseph were fully and completely human, with human lives and human challenges, and their sanctity - their holiness - lies in how they met the challenges they faced, not in the absence of challenges.

And so, for me, might it be that holiness lies not in living so virtuously that nothing bad ever happens to me or my children, but rather in responding virtuously - with goodness and truth - to the things, both good and bad, that do happen to me? And in loving my children when they screw up (like Jesus, who 'while we were still sinners, died for us'). That is holiness on a very earthy, down-and-dirty level. But more and more, it seems to me that that's the holiness I need to pursue.

Lord, have mercy.