sweet gratitude

Sometimes I get so piled under the papers and tasks on my desk that the gift of being in quiet conversation with parishioners gets to feeling impossible.

Yesterday I shook off the administrative “shoulds” and spent time with beauty.

During the course of a few hours, I visited with two parishioners who have spent more than eight decades on this earth.  They were both engaging and engaged people who know how to speak gratitude and challenge and blessing.

I left so grateful for what they teach by their being.  In particular, I was moved by the love they each had for their respective partners.  One, for a wife who took up bike repair tools and powered a lawn mower even though she was a “little girl”.  The love she and her husband shared for over 50 years shines from him yet.  She is so very much alive in this world through the power of his heart.

The other had been blessed by the love of two good men:  one her high school sweetheart whom she married at eighteen and loved for over 40 years.  After his death she was surprised by a second love and married a man who was husband to her in ways powerful and good.  Her eyes sparkled with gratitude when she spoke of both of them.

And I celebrated and I mourned because I am one of those who has gone through the severing that is divorce and while I too can celebrate marriage relationship shared with two good men, the sharing is complicated and tinged always with grief.

I am moved by the courage and faith it takes to risk the thing that is love.  I am aware of wistful longing for a continuity and cohesion that is taken for granted by those who love long and I am aware too that while that is not my story, the one I live is gift and will shine from me when some fine pastor spends an hour with me three decades hence.

Love is a precious thing.  Companionship and constancy and a friend to grow old with are eye and heart shine. 

I was witness.  I am witness.

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