Sometimes I wonder to myself, “How do people even get married?”
Weddings seem so bizarrely beautiful. This man and this woman, promising lives and fidelity to each other forever and ever (well, until they die, at least).
But how? How do people look at each other and decide this? How do they get to a place where they like each other at the same time? This blows my mind at every wedding.
How have they had all of the conversations they need to have about finances and aging parents and children and…jonquils in the spring. (I once read a poem about a woman whose husband didn’t appreciate things like jonquils and it was tragic and permanently sorrowful, ok? As a good poem should be, I guess, but still).
I asked this to one of my girlfriends, over text, as she was going through a hard time (and aren’t we all, of course): how do people even get married? She laughed and joked, “Ignorance and impulse?”
And we both laughed. (Over text).
But I went out with another girlfriend on Sunday to a place with fresh-squeezed juice, as they do at Arabic restaurants. We sat outside, in the setting autumn sun which is all about casting golden light everywhere, especially on the leaves turned the color of butterscotch and honey, leaves that fluttered down the earth as we sat in the sun.
She’s dating someone, I’m dating someone.
And, it’s kind of hard and weird, even though we have good men in our lives. We talked about the ups and the downs. The people who are so eager for us to start talking rings and “the future” while we (her and I) are trying to navigate feelings, still or maybe compatibility, still. And it seems like everyone else is rushing but us.
“How do people decide?” I wondered, to her.
She told me (because she has so many answers and so much wisdom) that she heard a speech by a bishop who talked about vocational discernment and “abundant grace.”
Sometimes I ask people, older people who have been married for forty/ fifty/ etc. years how they met each other, because I love to see their faces relive their story of love. Some swear they “just knew.” Abundant grace.
One of my friends, a priest now, had a vision in college where he saw himself as a priest. “…and I looked holy,” he’ll say. He sometimes likes to push me, to see what emotions he can see, and he’ll say things like, “So MARRY someone already” in which case, my prime defense is, “YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO SAY ANYTHING, GOD GRACED YOU WITH A FLIPPIN’ VISION.” 🙂
But, still, abundant grace. The grace to have a vision, you know?
Passing along the faith is a tricky reality. Because some of it relies on you, but an awful lot of it depends on God. Like, you could give a kid the best religion class of all time taught by St. Thomas Aquinas plus St. Hildegard but he could still walk away at the end of it all. Or you could give a kid the worst religious instruction of all time and God could just absolutely pierce his heart and then, viola, the next saint. Or something.
But, that relies on grace.
I think about vocation a bit, because I work with young adults, and most of them are struggling through this part called “discernment,” heck, I’m here, too. How do I do a good job at this? How can I make good decisions?
My favorite line from the song Amazing Grace is: “His grace has brought me safe thus far; and grace will lead me home.”
And I thought to myself a few days ago, when I ran for the morning, “Geez, I should maybe just tattoo that on my body somewhere so I can remember it always.”
And I should probably pray for a greater outpouring of grace forever and ever. Amen.
A few months ago I went to a church with a (Protestant) friend. I tried to prep said-friend with the mass readings, so everything would be not-overwhelming. I’d like to think that I did a pretty good job. But then, after mass, the people broke out in a spontaneous Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. I internally smacked my hand on my head, because the prayer is kind of intense, and I hadn’t even thought to talk about it. So, we filed out. And then my friend commented on the church…and how it seemed healthier than other churches she has been to, even Catholic churches. I’ve been thinking about that a lot, and how the healthiest churches in my area seem to pray that prayer after mass, too.
Now, I’m not superstitious (mostly) (knock on wood ;)), but, which comes first: the chicken or the egg? Which comes first–a healthy parish or prayers for a healthy parish? Or does one just help the other?
In terms of figuring out this chaos that is life and life-direction–which comes first? Do you act first and then let God respond, or do you wait for His direction?
Or do you just beg, beg, beg for an abundance of grace?