Patheos has given us a writing prompt for the month of November, to consider in gratitude someone who has helped us along on our journey of faith. I am lucky to say that I could write a month long series considering the important roles that my mother and father, my grandparents, aunts, friends, and of course the builders have played in my life in faith, the important ways that each one has helped me to understand my place in this world as a child of God. I know, however, that there is one person who is more important to my vocation than any other.
During my freshman year in college, I stopped going to Mass. I did not go through an active theological rebellion, it was more like a combination of laziness and disillusionment, and I never felt good about it, but neither did I feel as bad as I probably should have. That summer, sharing a home with my mother and aunt, I returned to a humble parish at the seaside with atrocious guitar music and I cried my way through every sentimental song. My mother must have thought I was going a bit loopy, but to her credit she never said a word. My one regret about that time is that while I returned to communion, it did not occur to me to go to confession first, and as no one in my family knew the state of my soul, it probably didn’t occur to them to advise me to do so.
In any event, I returned to Princeton at the end of the summer both hopeful and scared. I wanted to keep going to church, and also to dig my way out of the drunken debauchery that I called a social life, but I knew that I would have the same group of friends and be likely to fall in to the same bad habits.
I have no doubt that the Guardian Angels were hard at work on my first day back on campus. My mother dropped me off and I went straight to a meeting in the basement of McCarter Theatre. What happened after that would be a blur, except that a week later I recorded almost every minute of it in my brown leather Filofax (!!) so that I would always remember.
I met a boy. Before either of us were close to admitting that we were in love, but shortly after we began holding hands, I told him that I hoped to attend Sunday Mass more regularly that year, but that I didn’t think I would. He said that he would help me by meeting me outside the Chapel before the 4:30 Mass that Sunday. I clearly remember a feeling of lightness, like the release of a huge burden; I wasn’t going to have to do this alone.
This is more or less the pattern for our walk towards Christ together. I seek the truth, I read about it, think about it, pray about it, cry about it and would totally not follow through with anything once it got hard, but I do not have to do it alone.
The early part of our relationship had huge ups and downs while I dealt with a family crisis and also rebelled, surprisingly, against the sometimes confining nature of his steady love and goodness. To be honest, I still wrestle with it. God has given me a husband who does the right thing whether he feels like it or not. He brushes his teeth and takes out the trash and goes to Mass on Sundays. My temperament is much more erratic, and sometimes his steadiness infuriates me, except that I know that I need it more than anything else in the world. I do not have to do this alone. My life with him is my path to sanctification.
My husband works long hours and has a long commute, but I talk to him many, many times each day, probably more than is normal. We share every mundane detail of our lives, and we have from the very beginning. I am sad when he kisses me goodbye every morning and happy when he comes home at night. His secretary can tell from the tone of my voice whether she can take a message or whether she had better get him out of a meeting. I do most of the childcare and all of the homeschooling and more of the house management, but I know that I do not do it alone. We are building our cathedral carefully, of good material, and while I go in fits and starts, he keeps on steadily. We chose Christ as our foundation from the very beginning.
This thanksgiving, and every day, I thank God for the gift of a husband who is uniquely suited to my soul.