“We don’t fall in love and then get married; instead we get married and then learn what love requires.”
For most of my life I have been thinking about “what love requires,” and specially so in light of my marriage to Meg. What is plain to me is that a long-loved love requires a common calling.
Not of course that husband and wife spend life together every day in every way. A vocation of heart and mind is not the same thing as an occupation marked by distinct responsibilities and relationships. Sometimes we are butchers and bakers and candlestick-makers– and farmers and physicians, singers and songwriters, mechanics and ministers, entrepreneurs and engineers.
But every good life sees the complexity of calling, where everything in every way must be seen in light of one’s vocation, of who we are and what we do– from God to neighbor, from the most local to the most global, from the most personal to the most public, everything matters, every square inch. All of this is vocation, in and through life over the years of joy and sorrow, of gladness and grief, the reality of life in this frail world for everyone everywhere.
One of Meg’s criteria for the man she would marry is that she would be willing and able to join in with her husband’s vocation. Not to do the same thing in life and labor, but to enter in, to stand with and beside, to walk on into life together with a common calling.
Tomorrow I begin a busy few months, teaching day by day, week after week. On Monday mornings I will spend three hours with the Capitol Fellows, and then each week I will go off somewhere in America, continuing this work of a public teacher among many people in many places– in small towns and big cities full of young and old, men and women, eager in their unique ways to understand the coherence of belief and behavior across the whole of life.
And though Meg will stay at home, taking up her own work as a librarian, morning after morning stepping into the world of children and books, she will be with me too, as I with her, deepening our long-loved love made flesh in our common calling. Love requires nothing more, nothing less.
(My wife Meg at Assateague National Seashore, Virginia– and the words above are from Stanley Hauerwas of Duke University)
Originally posted to the Commons Blog from The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation and Culture.