And now. Even now. Even after. Oh. How many years is it for you? How many is it for me? I think it’s maybe 35 for me now. 36? Maybe it’s 36. Something like that.
And even now. Even with our not-so-good days. Even with our so-so days. It’s lovely. This marriage we have. This marriage that is something like a canoe in which we each have our part. A canoe in which we each have our own end and our own paddle.
We each can do whatever we like with our paddles. We can each independently choose to work at cross-purposes, if we like. Or bash each other over the head, for example.
But things go so much more smoothly. So much more aesthetically. So much more peacefully. So much more enjoyably. If we decide together where we are going. If we choose together for the good of the journey how we will proceed.
How we will accommodate one another. And then cooperate. Coordinate. Coruscate under the bright light of the sun’s scrutiny. Confabulate. Communicate. Commiserate. Congregate. Conglomerate. Coagmentate. Cogitate. Cohabitate. Periodically copulate. And rehabilitate.
And this journeying together. This agreement to paddle in the same canoe. This is certainly choice. But it is also affection. It is also feeling. Because without affection. Without love. Without patient love. This would. It just wouldn’t be.
Have you ever tried to paddle a canoe with another person? For 35 years? Every day? All day long? In often difficult weather? Difficult water?
You get on one another’s nerves! You get eternally irritated, at the very least. And you can get dangerously angry, if you don’t watch out. You are both merely human, you see. Both deeply flawed. And so you regularly act like asses. You regularly act in ways that would be embarrassing if put on national television.
I say regularly. I mean momently. I mean all the stinking time. I mean every time you regard yourself you find yourself doing or thinking or saying or feeling or wanting something that you desperately need forgiveness for. That only God could possibly forgive you for, because only he has that infinite capacity of forgiveness that your sinfulness requires.
But then there is your marriage. Then there is this other wonderful person who is with you in the same canoe. Who knows everything that another person can know about you. And who by being there in the canoe with you implicitly forgives you.
Explicit forgiveness is nice. It’s very powerful stuff. But whether you get the explicit forgiveness or not, you’ve got something almost as good. You’ve got the continued presence of your lover and friend.
And this forgiveness. It can only come. It is only possible. Because of love. Because your wife or husband or partner has opened the infinite well of love in his or her heart for you. For you.
Can you understand that? Do you believe that? This person. This other merely human being has made you—disgusting you—tolerable and possible because she (or he or whatever) has chosen every day to remain vulnerable to you and all your cruelties, all your coldness, all your silliness, all your depravity, all your insensitivity, all your selfishness, all your defensiveness, all your denial, all your laziness, all your grandiosity, all your insecurity, and so on.
Isn’t this uncalled for? Isn’t this extraordinary and remarkable and miraculous? Isn’t the very idea that anyone would put up with you for 35 years fundamentally astounding? Doesn’t it make you humble and grateful and tender-hearted just to contemplate? A little leaky around the window shades?
That another person would do that for you? That another person could love you—ridiculous you—that much? That you could mean that much to anyone?
It should. It definitely should. In fact, I recommend it. I highly recommend it. A little reflection on the enormous love it must take to accommodate you.