Sunday was Andy’s and my 46th wedding anniversary. We have been married for 70% of our lives. When we said “I will” to the beautiful and daunting vows in an Episcopal church, Andy was so young his parents had to sign a permission slip for the state of Maryland. “Yes, little Andy has our blessing to go on a lifelong field trip with Sybil.” It was a crazy thing Andy and I did. If we had been older we would have had the sense to be more scared. But we were convinced we were supposed to take this journey together.
I’ve been trying to write a post about our longtime marriage, but everything I write seems sappy or self-righteous. A few phrases and their visual images offer a playful, but succinct summary for me.
a training ground,
a stomping ground
a feeding ground,
a breeding ground,
But another word that keeps popping up in my brain is community. Marriage is community. Without the myriad number of people in our lives who have encouraged us, chastised us, guided us, loved us, and prayed for us, we would not be together today. As a tight little twosome, we do not have the energy, creativity, or wisdom to weather the changes and challenges of growing up and living with another person. Support and training have come from both likely and unlikely sources. Family, friends, Christians, non-Christians, married people, single people, divorced people, old people, children. Clergy, therapists, authors, colleagues, alcoholics, addicts. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2 NRSV) For this journey, God has given us teachers and angels with many different faces. Our marriage is not just about the two of us. It is a communal undertaking.