(I wrote this several years ago and is excerpted from my second book, Lessons Along the Journey)
I hadn’t slept well the night before,
and weariness settled over me like a heavy rug. Nancy and I returned
home from Mass, ate lunch, and were unwinding on the couch where she
continued our conversation about her passion for art. But I couldn't
keep my mind from drifting. As it did, my eyes focused on her face.
noticed her changing features before, but somehow this time I saw her
anew. Creases now feather her cheeks and forehead where her skin was
once smooth and supple. Gone is her naturally dark auburn hair. She
colors it blonde to mask the gray.
When I asked Nancy
to marry me nearly four decades ago, I thought I knew her. I thought I
loved her. Now, half-listening to her describe the colors she planned to
use in her next project, I realized how little I really knew or loved
her in 1975.
weathered many storms during our years together. Some of them were
tsunamis. I don’t even like to dredge them up in my memory. Our son
suffered through divorce. Nancy’s
beloved stepfather died. Two years later, I lost mine. Financial crises
and long periods of unemployment rocked our marriage from time to time.
Friends turned their backs on us because of our commitment to Christ.
And then there were a dozen military-related moves from one end of the
country to the other, which forced us to leave family, friends, and
Sometimes I wonder how we survived it
all. God’s grace? Unquestionably. Intervening from the shadows, often
without revealing His hand, our Father brought peace when turmoil
overwhelmed us, and freedom when fear bound us. He quieted us when, in
frustration, we lashed out at each other instead of going to our knees
before our God.
God’s grace, certainly. But something else has proven vital to our relationship: our communication with each other.
suppose better than eighty percent of our discussions over the years
have been casual. You know the kind: what’s for dinner, what happened at
work, the kids have colds . . . . But because of that casual eighty
percent, she and I can also meet in intimate, deeply personal
conversations. We are able to talk about our hopes, joys, fears and
dreams because we have spent so much of our time learning about each
other. That’s why I know her – and love her – so much more today than I
did when we married.
Which brings me to the real point.
years ago, I thought I knew Jesus. I thought I loved him. But, oh, how
my knowledge of Him and my love for Him are so very different today than
they were in 1972 when I first offered Him my heart.
Why? Unquestionably, because of God’s grace. But I am sure there is something else at work.
in my walk with Christ, I learned the importance of communing with Him
in prayer, study of Scripture – and since 2005 when I entered the
Catholic Church – in the Sacraments. Over the years, I’ve worn out three
Bibles, memorized scores of Scripture texts, and can allude to a
hundred more. I’ve spent time with Him in the morning, the evening, and
throughout the day.
be honest, most of my prayers – eighty percent? – are not what I would
call passionate. You know the kind: Lord, I need a good evaluation at
work. Mom needs guidance about moving from Florida.
Gerry needs a job. Helen’s son is ill. But because of that eighty
percent, because I communicate so often with Him, I know how to be
intimate with Him when battles rage beyond my control.
In the first stanza of his poem, Rabbi Ben Ezra,
Robert Browning wrote, “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.
The last of life, for which the first was made, our times are in His
hand who said ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; trust God: see
all, nor be afraid!’”
husbands and wives grow old together, they learn what love and intimacy
with each other looks like. When men and women grow old with the King
of Glory, they learn what love and intimacy with Him is like. When
life’s storms rip at our foundations, when the hot breath of Satan
prickles down our neck, our deeply personal knowledge of God will be our
fortress. Our passionate love for Him, born through intimate communion,
will be our strength. Surely, that is one reason the prophet urged:
“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call Him while He is near” (Isaiah