Yesterday, I and the love of my life celebrated year 26 of our incredible marriage journey. We relaxed, wandered some of our favorite parts of Seattle and then finished off the day with an amazing dinner on a patio overlooking the water of Puget sound while the setting sun made lavender silhouettes out of the mountains against a clear blue sky. A few tables away a young couple sat celebrating their first anniversary. This began a conversation between my wife and I about where we had been on our first anniversary , trying to recall where we have spent subsequent anniversaries, and how much more madly in love we are now than when we began.
Unfortunately, try as I might, I cannot remember where we spent each of our anniversaries. I can remember a good percentage, but I have to admit once more, “I ain’t as good as I once was”. I do know, or at least have a good feeling, that most of them were reflective of our lives at that moment. In other words, as I look back on where we were each of those 26 years, the setting and events surrounding our celebration would have been appropriate to the context of what was happening in our lives. You might think that this not an important note, however, as we remembered last night, none of these milestones passed with the obligatory card and dinner out. We never sat stiff across the table from each other trying to manufacture the emotion that should accompany the event. Many years in fact, although many of you won’t believe this, we didn’t even exchange cards. Instead we exchanged whatever was going on at the time for a reason to celebrate.
As we ventured into ministry together, a journey that can be very hazardous to a family and a marriage, we have clung even tighter to these occasions. We don’t throw money at it. We make the entire day a priority. Having just finished the monumentally draining event of our daughters wedding, this year we avoided all temptation of a few days away and just relaxed together with nothing but a 7pm dinner reservation to lead our day. It was a fitting tribute to the life that we have built together.
In my profession as a pastoral artist, I am in the wedding /marriage business more than I care to be. I can honestly say that the biggest reason why there are not more people as madly in love as we are is that they really have no idea what the vow “for better or worse” might be leading them into. We have skipped through the better and trudged through the worse. One thing we have learned is that when you are trudging through the worse, there is always better on the other side… but you have to climb the rocks to see the view. When you are skipping through the better, you had better be holding the other ones hand, because there is something lying in wait to trip you up.
Lest you think that this blog was written by some Hallmark flunkie, let me tell you that it’s not always been perfect. Sometimes it is exhausting on both our parts… mostly for her I suppose. As I look back over the years and the journey with the birth of our children, the miscarriages of some, the life, the death, the security, the uncertainty, the haves, the have nots, moves, career changes, dreams, realities, teenagers, colleges, weddings, and a grandchild, the common thing to all of this in our lives is that we experienced them together. I don’t always know where the time went, but I am certain that we went with it. So this morning I sit here in my chair by the beach and salute with everything that I have and all that I am. Here’s to the next 26, Gorgeous!