Well, as they say, “the honeymoon is over”. I’ve now been in my new position for just over 6 months and all of a sudden I’m being consistently confronted with my own fallibility…and with others’ diminished grace in dealing with it.
Aside from the obvious ones, I have a strange assortment of memories from my real honeymoon. We spent a week on the Oregon coast, driving a borrowed car and staying in a borrowed beach-front condo perched on the bluff at Newport Beach. Walking in the door, carrying my bride across the threshhold, I discovered a decent-sized diamond glinting at me from the brown shag carpet. We took it to the landlord. Other memories are of amaretto cheesecake, of (early) evenings watching a re-run of ABC’s Masada mini-series, and of walks on the beach. Today what remains to remind us of the week are a few grainy photos of ourselves on the beach and a framed poster of the lighthouse at Yaquina Head. It was good.
But I can’t remember the moment when the proverbial ending of the honeymoon period came. I’m sure there must have been squabbles and disagreements in the ensuing months, but I don’t recall them now. As a couple I think we’ve always done pretty well in living up to Dr. Phil’s advice: that you fight is not nearly as important as how you finish your fights. The point being that you want to finish with a stronger relationship, not a weaker one. With more understanding of each other, not less.
St. Patrick’s day has come and gone. The Church of England doesn’t make a big deal about St. Patrick, but it does provide alternative scripture readings for the day, to be found in small print on the very last page of the lectionary. The day happened to fall on a Wednesday, the day we have a mid-day Communion service, so I focused my homily on Patrick, especially his early years of enforced slavery in Ireland. In his Confessions he talks about being a rather feeble Christian before his capture and forced exile; however, “after I had come to Ireland I daily used to feed cattle, and I prayed frequently during the day; the love of God and the fear of Him increased more and more, and faith became stronger, and the spirit was stirred…”
Patrick is yet another example of the fact that adversity is the test of authenticity. Without testing how would we ever know if we are willing to make true on our commitments? Wedding vows are sweet and roll gently off our lips when we say them; living up to them in the heat of disagreement and the disappointments of life is their true test.
Honeymoons are meant to end; a life forever in that mode would not be authentic. So, bring on the emails and the phone calls and the I’d-like-to-speak-to-you-abouts. They only confirm what I already know: I’m not perfect, I make mistakes, but I am learning and growing and doing my best. When the sums are added up and the balance is made, I simply hope God will be gracious enough to allow me to have been a wee blessing in your life.