THIS I BELIEVE
I believe in love and I believe in fidelity. It’s easy enough to bask in the warmth of love’s golden light when things are good. But, it is quite another thing to keep hold of the rails when love’s fury plumbs the depth of our commitment. And then too, can we ever know all that love is, or even if this is really love at all when we are gone as soon as the going gets tough?
Many years ago, in what really does now feel like a different life, I was getting divorced. It was hard and it took a long time to go through what seemed like all the prerequisite stages. Sometimes, before a couple will consider the bonds of marriage broken enough to turn and walk away into something else, they feel the need to throw across the living room, at least once, each of all the good things they’ve accumulated over the years.
I remember a time in the beginning of this disassembling process, a time before the lawyers were hired, when a man commissioned me to make a rocking chair. The chair was intended to be a wedding present for his son and his bride to be, or maybe it was for his daughter and her bridegroom, I don’t remember which. But I do remember trying to use the building of that chair as a refuge from the turmoil of my own dissolving marriage.
As the construction of the chair progressed, I shaped the pieces and fitted the joints with increasing precision. I imagined that through the care of my craftsmanship I might communicate to this young couple across time and space a message that would inspire them to embrace more deeply the commitments of their new marriage, something to help them weather the storms that would surely come.
When the work was finished I picked up my carving knife and inscribed on the back of the chair a simple instruction, “Love Each Other Always, No Matter What”.
The anguish of my divorce moved me to reconnect with my parents in a way that I had never done before. I shared with them my troubles and they told me of rough patches that they went through, stories I had not heard before.
My parents stayed together through a great deal of personal hardship and emotional strife back in the day when, for the sake of the children, couples wouldn’t divorce. I appreciate very much that my parents stayed together and I know that I benefited from it. But, when I consider the history of my parents’ marriage I find that many of their greatest trials as a couple came after my siblings and I had grown and left the house.
I don’t think my parents stayed together ‘for the children’. My parents stayed together because they loved each other.
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